University Supporters Set Record on Third Annual Comets Giving Day

On April 2, members of the UT Dallas community came together on campus and around the world for the third annual Comets Giving Day. Fueled by more than two dozen challenges and matching gift opportunities provided by generous donors, 2,276 gifts were raised in just 18 hours, generating $615,755.

Video of Comets Giving Day activities. Video will open in YouTube in a new tab.

Giving Day results were music to Comets’ ears. The day generated more than $615,000 in gifts that will benefit more than 60 University causes. See the video on YouTube.

These gifts substantially surpassed the results from each of the first two Comets Giving Days in 2017, which raised $199,143, and 2018, which brought in $389,000. Inspired by the impact of results from previous years, more programs and organizations participated in this year’s Giving Day, and the increased presence on campus created a festive atmosphere that helped drive enthusiasm.

Among this year’s new participants in Comets Giving Day was the Center for BrainHealth (CBH).

“We are one of the University’s satellite centers,” said Gail Cepak, who manages community relations for CBH. “We thought that coming to campus would be a good way to get more students involved in what we are doing and to help them explore job opportunities and research participant opportunities.”

Gifts to support the Center for BrainHealth brought in $8,400 toward the center’s Warrior SMART (Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training) program, an initiative that helps veterans and first responders develop healthy cognitive performance.

Alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends made contributions of all sizes to programs and initiatives that make a difference to our students.

Kyle Edgington PhD’13, vice president for development and alumni relations

“The chronic stress of the day-to-day lifestyles of military personnel, police officers and other first responders is detrimental to healthy brain activity,” said Joshua Parker, program manager at the Center for BrainHealth and the Brain Performance Institute. “These populations have responded really well to our program, which has become a cornerstone of our work.”

Also on campus for the first time during Giving Day was Comet Closet, a student-run organization that provides professional attire and educational opportunities for students entering the job market.

“We have roughly 300 clients, including both undergraduate and graduate students,” said Elena Podleski, a sophomore in the Naveen Jindal School of Management and one of the student organizers for Comet Closet. “In addition to helping students obtain interview attire, we require participation in at least three development events that teach basic professional skills not covered in classes.”

Comet Closet leadership surpassed its goal for the day, receiving $700 in cash gifts and more than 200 pounds of clothing. The dedicated efforts of volunteers and donors helped the program secure additional funds by winning contests throughout the day, including a door decorating competition and an overall gift leaderboard bonus of $100.

Students wrote thank-you notes to donors and enjoyed festivities on the Margaret McDermott Mall during Comets Giving Day.

One of the most popular Giving Day stops on the Margaret McDermott Trellis Plaza belonged to the Center for Students in Recovery. Attracted by the center’s therapy dog, Frank, and the opportunity to make a gift in exchange for the chance to throw a pie at faculty members, students and faculty contributed $14,500 to support the center.

“We provide a safe space and services to students who identify as being in recovery, as well as for those who identify as allies,” said Jeremy Eicke, collegiate recovery program manager for the center. “The funds we raised on Giving Day will help create a scholarship for students in recovery who want to return to school.”

Gifts made on Giving Day impacted more than 60 areas around UT Dallas. Thanks to various challenges, most individual donors activated matching funds that doubled the contribution made to their desired area of the University.

Some supporters, like Dr. Pradeep Kumar, a psychiatrist at Plano Behavioral Health, chose to make a singular impact during Giving Day. Kumar made a $25,000 gift that will be used to establish an endowment to provide fellowship support for computer science graduate students in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.

“Alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends made contributions of all sizes to programs and initiatives that make a difference to our students,” said Kyle Edgington PhD’13, vice president for development and alumni relations.

Media Contact: Daniel Steele, UT Dallas, (972) 883-5485, [email protected], or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].