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Donors from every part of the United States opened their hearts and gave with purpose in an outpouring of support for Eastern Kentucky University’s 2nd annual EKU Giving Day on April 14, shattering the goal of 1,000 donors with nearly 2,000 donors providing more than $325,000 in a 24-hour period. 

“From program-altering gifts to every single small, medium or large gift, we are so incredibly proud and thankful for all of the alumni, students, employees, and friends of Eastern Kentucky University for their support on EKU Giving Day,” said Betina Gardner, vice president for university development and alumni engagement. “We turned the map maroon, getting gifts from all fifty states, which shows the power of philanthropy and the incredible reach of this university. We’re excited to be able to offer more students the opportunity to come to EKU through this outpouring of support.” 

During the day, EKU established several new initiatives to benefit students. President Dr. David McFaddin and his wife, Melissa, announced their Pay it Back to Pay it Forward campaign, designed to encourage EKU alumni who received scholarships to give back in support of future generations of Colonels. The McFaddins will make a gift equal to the total amount of scholarship money they each received while students at EKU. They encourage alumni to give what they can to help others have the opportunity to experience excellence at EKU.

“We both had a transformative EKU experience, and it’s our goal with this initiative to be able to give as many students like us the same opportunities we had at Eastern Kentucky University,” McFaddin said. “Melissa and I owe everything we have to our experience at EKU. It has forever transformed our lives, and we want to repay the scholarships now to pave the way for future Colonels.” 

When EKU reached 125 brand-new donors on Giving Day, EKU Board of Regents Chair Lewis Diaz and his wife, Becky, released a gift to support the Dinsmore Pre-Law Minority Program. The program will provide mentoring, career advice, interactive programming, and financial assistance to area minority undergraduate students interested in attending law school after earning their undergraduate degrees. Lewis Diaz is a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP, a firm committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“As an immigrant and a minority, my EKU experience was uniquely transformative. Coming to Richmond on a football scholarship allowed me to get undergraduate and graduate degrees. It also provided an excellent foundation and preparation for success in law school,” said Diaz. “There are many young, talented and deserving diverse students who want to pursue a career in the legal profession but do not have the financial means to cover the incidental costs of pursuing an education in law school. That’s a void I want to help fill. Becky and I are blessed, and we want to pass that along to others, in particular, those who have aspirations that seem impossible, to make their dreams come true.” 

John Williamson, Superintendent of Model Laboratory Schools, provided a challenge gift to start the new Future Educators Scholarship for Model Alumni. More than 30 current and retired Model teachers stepped up to secure Mr. Williamson’s $1,000 match to the new fund, which will provide an EKU scholarship to recent Model graduates and alumni who plan to pursue a career in education. Many Model alumni also participated in Giving Day by supporting the school’s development fund and scholarships.

Several additional challenge gifts were provided by the EKU Alumni Board, Foundation Board, President’s Cabinet, deans, and generous individuals across the University community. To see more information about Giving Day 2021, including leaderboards, visit