An Inspirational Gift
Bailins hope to inspire other parents through “Bailin Family Challenge”
by Matt Getty
May 1, 2008
Bob and Veronica Bailin saw firsthand what Dickinson did for their daughter Emily ’07, and now they want to make sure the college continues to do the same for others. To help inspire more parents to support the college, they’ve pledged to give up to $100,000 to the Parents Fund by matching every new and increased gift the fund receives before the end of the fiscal year.
“Dickinson gave Emily the opportunity to find out who she was,” says Veronica Bailin. “She got this great liberal-arts education, but she also got to see what she was really capable of.”
During her freshman year, Emily found she was capable of taking on more responsibilities than she’d first thought. After signing on as co-chair of the Spirit Committee, she was forced to take the lead when her fellow co-chair left for a semester abroad.
“She took the bull by the horns,” her mother recalls. “She organized the rallies, the events. She just took it and ran with it.”
And Emily continued to ‘run with it’ at Dickinson. During the next three years she became president of the college’s Panhellenic Association, traveled abroad twice to England and Montserrat, and worked as a campus tour guide and senior interviewer for admissions. At graduation last spring, the sociology and women’s studies double major earned the William F. Hufstader Senior Prize, which is given each year to two seniors who “make the greatest contribution to the good of the college.”
“That was such a big surprise,” Veronica recalls. “The hair on my arms still stands up when I think about it. I was just so proud, and it really showed me—you give a kid an opportunity and they will excel.”
But even as Emily stood on stage accepting the award, her parents felt something more than personal pride. Having left college years ago to launch their own successful careers—Veronica as a stylist and photographer and Bob as the head of his own lighting and grip company in New York City—they saw clearly for the first time the impact a college could have.
“I look at Dickinson and how it’s building this sense of global citizenry, and I feel like tomorrow’s leaders are in good hands,” Veronica explains. “We’re living in such a fragile time, and Dickinson is providing an opportunity for the next generation of leaders to find themselves. I think that’s so important right now.”
Important enough that last year the Bailins gave $25,000 to the college to help a dozen students spend a week at the LeaderShape Institute in Illinois, where they participated in a series of exercises designed to build leadership skills. Now the Bailins want to make an even bigger impact with the $100,000 Bailin Family Challenge.
“Choosing to give is a very personal decision, but we wanted to do this as a challenge to help show others how important giving is,” says Veronica. “A lot of people don’t understand that tuition doesn’t cover the entire cost of educating a student. For us, when you understand that, and you look at what the school is doing, we just have to help support that.”