Senior gift to honor Molly Hightower

By The Beacon | February 17, 2010 9:00pm

By Lisa McMahan

Every year, the senior class presents a farewell gift to the university.

This year's seniors are giving back in a big way, setting a monetary goal almost 10 times larger than any senior gift in the past.

What is the motive behind this grandiose gift? Honoring Molly Hightower, the 2009 UP alumna killed in the earthquake in Haiti last month.

In memory of Molly, the Senior Gift Committee plans to set up an endowment that will provide scholarships for students at UP.

The committee began meeting last semester and considered other gifts that would benefit the students at UP through improvements on campus. But after the earthquake occurred, its focus changed.

"The committee was compelled to do something to honor their schoolmate," Leanne Goolsby, Senior Gift Committee adviser said.

The committee set a goal to raise $50,000 by June 1 in order to set up an endowment, a self-perpetuating fund that will ensure the University can offer the scholarships in the future.

Committee members plan to award a scholarship or scholarships in the coming school year.

Though criteria for the scholarship have not been established, the committee plans to take into account students' involvement in service to honor Hightower's own history of service at UP and in Haiti.

"The student or students who receive scholarship funding will be determined based on financial need and embodiment of the qualities Molly possessed," Goolsby said. "A strong sense of faith and a dedication to service for others."

Last year's senior class gifted the university with around $7,000 to reinstate Wally Pilot as the mascot.

Past senior classes typically gave gifts valued around $2,500, according to senior Colton Coughlin, Senior Gift Committee member and ASUP President.

"It's very lofty compared to what we've raised in the past, but administration is very supportive," Coughlin said.

The committee plans to raise money through student, parent and alumni donations, and is planning fundraisers for the coming months.

"We are having a white-out party, P-Diddy style, on April 10," Coughlin said.

The committee is working with Seven Planet, a Portland general store that provides green and sustainable products, to plan the party.

All proceeds will go to the scholarship.

"It will be a really strong push over the next months," Goolsby said. "Hopefully we will have a strong campus presence and presence in the community."

Those interested in donating can go to, where a Senior Gift Committee donation Web site will be set up in a few days.

Goolsby can also be contacted directly at (503) 943-7878 or at

"We're appealing to a larger population," Coughlin said.

If the committee is unable to raise enough funds to set up an endowment it will still establish an annual scholarship, according to Goolsby.

Senior Rachel Lopez believes the scholarship will be a fitting tribute to Molly's legacy at UP.

"It's definitely carrying on her name and the example she set for us," Lopez said.

Goolsby hopes students will be able to take their experiences on The Bluff and use them as Hightower did.

"She was a really strong representation of the university's mission," Goolsby said. "Teaching, faith, service - that's what she was doing."