Student Alumni Association Gives More Than $36,000 to Counseling Center


Kristen Bailey
Institute Communications

Catie Miller
Alumni Association

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2015 Gift to Tech Celebration
Tuesday, April 21
11 a.m.
Kessler Campanile


Summary Sentence:

The 2015 Student Alumni Association Gift to Tech will provide more resources to mental health services on campus.

Full Summary:

The 2015 Student Alumni Association Gift to Tech will provide more resources to mental health services on campus.

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When Georgia Tech students voted on how to spend the Student Alumni Association (SAA) Gift to Tech funds this year, their votes spoke profoundly of what they value on campus: mental health services. 

The annual Gift to Tech will amount to more than $36,050 and will go to the Counseling Center, which will use the gift for the continued implementation of recommendations issued by the Mental Health Task Force in 2013. Some of those initiatives include suicide prevention and education programming, expanding the new Burdell’s Buddies peer counseling program, and supporting outreach and recovery programs.

The director of the Counseling Center, Toti Perez, said he and his team were both humbled and surprised to be among this year’s finalists, which included an outdoor concert series and outdoor solar-powered charging stations.

“We weren’t expecting it because there were so many good proposals out there,” he said.

The Gift to Tech is chosen through two rounds of student voting. All undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to vote in the first round, which narrows the list to the top three. SAA members then cast their votes in a second round to pick the winner.

“It’s so different from any other funding we may get,” Perez said. “It represents the voice of students who over the course of the years have started to regard emotional wellness and healthy lifestyles as a critical part of their success at Tech.”

College student mental health has been a prominent national issue and top of mind for the Tech community in recent years. In May 2013, President G.P. “Bud” Peterson convened the Mental Health Task Force, comprising students, faculty, and staff, to review Tech’s efforts at that time and increase awareness and prevention of mental health issues. The Task Force delivered recommendations in October of that year. Many have been implemented, including the creation of a Center for Community Health and Wellbeing that is being established this year. Additional funding has also gone to the Counseling Center to bring counselor salaries to market rate and add additional staff psychologists to the team. 

“It’s good to feel validated by students regarding the value and need for our services, along with the validation the administration has provided,” Perez said of the gift. “It’s an extraordinary honor.”

The Gift to Tech is funded through donations from SAA members. When students join SAA, they make a $10 donation, $5 of which goes to the Gift to Tech fund. This year a matching gift of $10,000 came from a father-son alumni team, Ken and Tyler Townsend. As students continue to join SAA through the end of the fiscal year, their donations will also go to the gift. The final gift total will be tallied at the end of June. 

“Of this year’s finalists, mental health was of a more serious nature and really resonates with students,” said Danish Dharani, co-vice president of philanthropy for SAA. “Student mental health is a big issue on college campuses in general, and with Tech of course being as rigorous as it is, I think that may have been a driving cause in the vote.”

SAA will award the gift at a ceremony on Tuesday, April 21, at 11 a.m. at the Kessler Campanile. All students are invited to attend, sign a commemorative banner, and enjoy the celebration and free food.


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  • Created By: Kristen Bailey
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Apr 16, 2015 - 9:57pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:18pm