Why do I give? As a member of the support staff of Perkins School of Theology, why do I give back to Perkins and SMU some of the money I am paid to do my job?
Some time ago I heard a support staff member referred to as the “cosmic glue” holding a particular office together. I’ve always remembered that line, and I think the staff at SMU is the cosmic glue that holds the university together. We’re the ones that keep its systems working in an orderly and harmonious way so the faculty can teach and the students can learn. We make events run smoothly, books and periodicals appear in the right places on shelves and in online catalogs, and students receive financial aid in a timely manner. We create and update web pages, answer computer questions, and put the data in database. Between us we answer thousands of questions from students, faculty, and visitors every year. We create publications, manage offices, pay the bills, and generally make our school and university look good. We are Cosmic Glue.
Now I don’t think any of us does all that just for the paycheck. We give 100% every day because we believe that what we do is important. As we support this institution of higher learning, we support the mission of education: the creation and preservation and dissemination of knowledge, and the personal, intellectual, spiritual and professional growth of our students. If we believe in the value of this mission, we are called (in the old Sunday School mantra) to offer it not only our time and talents but also our treasure. That is why I give and why I believe so many of my colleagues give.
Cosmic Glue doesn’t always get paid at the level one might expect, so the odds are good that we can’t singlehandedly endow a faculty chair or build a building or provide a full scholarship to a gifted student. But when all of us come together, our gift becomes significant. And when those who can endow that chair or build that building or provide that scholarship ask if the university enjoys support from its own community, I want the answer to be a resounding “Yes!”
One more note: Many of the faculty and staff at SMU take advantage of the tuition benefits to continue their own education or to educate their children. In my case, my punk rock multi-tattooed wild child (whom some of you may know from her years behind the Smoothie counter at the Dedman Center) wandered back into college right before she aged out of the tuition benefit. Over the next three years I cannot begin to count the number of professors who took a personal interest in her, encouraged her, and helped her find her place in the community. When she graduated in 2008, I knew she had received an education that went far beyond the excellent classes she had taken. She has a good job and a happy life in another state and counts her time at SMU as a life-changing experience. So I make a gift each year to SMU with gratitude for SMU’s gift to us.
Assistant to the Director of the Intern Program
Perkins School of Theology