EMU staff members greet people attending the LovEMU Cookout on Wednesday evening in front of the University Commons. (Photos by Macson McGuigan / EMU)

Alumni, donors contribute $340K for LovEMU Giving Day 2024

Shatters $300K record set last year

This year’s LovEMU Giving Day was an out-of-the-park grand slam, and we’re not just talking about the one hit by a Royals slugger at Wednesday’s baseball game.

The eighth annual giving day extravaganza, held on Wednesday, April 10, was bigger than previous years — featuring a number of new events that amped up the LovEMU spirit — and raised more money than ever before. A total of $340,512 was raised throughout the 24-hour event, cruising past the $325,000 goal set by organizers and eclipsing the $300,915 raised last year (a 13% increase).  

“I am blown away by the support from this community,” said LovEMU organizer Nicole Litwiller ’19, MA ’20 (conflict transformation), annual giving and donor communication specialist. “Not only did we raise over $340,000, which is in itself a massive accomplishment, but we also saw the EMU community (from current students, to alumni, to faculty and staff) show up for this day to make each event special and full of joy.”

EMU students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends shared what they loved most about EMU online (using the #EMUGivingDay and #StrongerTogether hashtags) and on campus. They showed up and showed out at LovEMU Giving Day events held throughout the day. And, they gave like never before, unlocking all $125,000+ of challenge match funds for The University Fund, student scholarships, athletics, and Royal Women for EMU.

This year saw the return of the leaderboard competition. For every $10 donation they made, supporters could vote for an academic program, student club/organization and athletic team. The winners of those categories — Music (85 votes), The Weather Vane (37 votes), and Men’s Soccer (192 votes) — each won $1,000. View the second-place and third-place winners, which received $500 and $250, on the LovEMU website at love.emu.edu.

Here’s a recap of the events and unlocked challenges that made LovEMU Giving Day 2024 a smashing success:


Inspired by the ’80s theme in our LovEMU Giving Day videos leading up to the event, folks at EMU showed up to campus looking like they just left an aerobics workout class — think teased hair, neon blue eyeshadow and neon windbreakers, warm-up jackets, legwarmers and headbands — while rocking out to hits from the decade.

Hundreds pack Yoder Arena for Wednesday morning’s pep rally, a new addition to LovEMU Giving Day this year.

Those attending the morning’s pep rally got a sweet start to their day with doughnuts (each representing the cost of an EMU education that donors cover). The EMU pep band added electricity to the first-ever LovEMU pep rally, while emcees Braydon Hoover ‘11, MA ‘21 (organizational leadership) and Harrisonburg, Virginia, Mayor Deanna Reed pumped up the crowd. 

From left to right: Nora Osei ’15, EMU senior Kate Landis and admitted student Megan Smith share why they love EMU at Wednesday’s pep rally. Smith participates in the new tradition of ringing a cowbell for making a tuition deposit.

An alumna, a current student and an admitted student each shared what they love about EMU. Nora Osei ’15, an EMU basketball and soccer player who now works as director of growth and partnerships for Nike Sports Camps, shared her tips for finding success. “You don’t have to be a standout athlete or student at EMU to find success,” she told the crowd. EMU senior psychology major and multi-sport athlete Kate Landis talked about the highlights of her last four years at EMU. Admitted student Megan Smith said she had visited 10 other colleges and did not consider EMU as a possibility. But, after seeing the clean campus, enjoying the good food at the dining hall and learning about the strong nursing program, she said EMU felt like home. “My mom and I got back into our car and we looked at each other and said, ‘This is the right place,’” said Smith.

Pep rally emcee Braydon Hoover counts down as EMU President Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman prepares for the pie! Watch the moment of impact on our Facebook video (starting around 47 minutes in).

Then, for a memorable moment from the day as President Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman donned safety glasses and a poncho in preparation for a pie to the face. Because we surpassed our goal set in the We’ve Got Spirit Challenge, we unlocked $10,000 to The University Fund and got the honor of watching Herm pie the president. As it turns out, Herm has great aim! Watch a video recording of the pep rally on the EMU Facebook page. 

The faculty and staff team eyes the competition during a game of dodgeball.

Following the pep rally, a team of faculty and staff faced off against students in LovEMU’s first-ever game of dodgeball. The faculty/staff team left the court victorious after one game. Yoder Arena’s courts then opened up for pickleball, basketball, volleyball and the climbing wall. 

Also new this year was the addition of Admitted Student Day to the LovEMU Day and SGA Day festivities. More than 20 admitted students visited the campus for the day, taking tours, learning about programs at the University Fair and panel discussions and participating in the spirited LovEMU events. It was, what President Huxman called, “a trifecta day.” When Herm was asked about how the day was going, he gave an enthusiastic two thumbs up.

Students enjoy the Lunch & Lawn Party at Thomas Plaza on Wednesday afternoon.

About 475 people soaked in the spring sunshine and enjoyed food, fun and fellowship at the Lunch & Lawn Party held on Thomas Plaza. They played lawn games on the grass and competed in contests such as the egg toss.

Eggs fly through the sky during an egg toss contest.

As mentioned at the beginning of our recap, Wednesday’s baseball game featured a grand slam from utility player Alex Gulisano as the Royals defeated the Fighting Squirrels of Mary Baldwin in a 12-2 drubbing. Another highlight of the game was infielder Ethan Spraker’s inside-the-park home run. The game drew a large crowd, who enjoyed treats from the Ott Street Eats food truck courtesy of the SGA.

Dennis Showalter ’73 grills up hamburgers and hot dogs at the LovEMU Cookout on Wednesday evening.

Hundreds of people from all ages and backgrounds celebrated the funds rolling in at a barbecue cookout held in the evening in front of the University Commons. Grillmaster Dennis Showalter ’73, president of the Alumni Council, served up fresh burgers and hot dogs. The Rain Pickers, a trio of strings musicians and EMU alumni, performed live music while hungry Royals chowed down. Pioneer College Caterers provided their services for lunch and dinner.

Members of the International Students Organization (ISO) perform “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” at the Karaoke Sing-Off on Wednesday night. The group won Most Engaging/Best All-Around. (Photo by Cassidy Walker / EMU)

The LovEMU energy continued well into the night, fueled by a karaoke sing-off contest judged by Professor Daniel Showalter, Security Officer Elizabeth Jones, Mayor Reed and Herm. Each of the winning clubs received $100! International Students Organization (ISO) won Most Engaging/Best All-Around, Asian-Pacific Islander Student Alliance (APISA) won Most EMU Love, and Queer Student Alliance (QSA) and Latino Student Alliance (LSA) split the winnings from the Best Theme category. 

LovEMU Giving Day came to a close with a biscuits and jam bar and live music from talented musicians in the Student Union. Litwiller said a highlight of her day came when time was nearing midnight in the Student Union with several students who stuck it out. “When we surpassed $340,000, cheers erupted, Tyler Goss started playing ‘We Are the Champions’ over the speakers, and everyone sang along in celebration,” Litwiller said. “It was a beautiful moment to be a part of, and reminded me of why we do this work: To support these amazing students. I’m filled with gratitude today.”

EMU Professor Jerry Holsopple has a spring in his step during Wednesday evening’s barbecue cookout.


Early Challenge: Before the day even started, the gifts came rolling in. We received at least 100 gifts before the start of LovEMU Giving Day to unlock $10,000 to student scholarships. 120+ out of 100 gifts needed were given!

Loyal Royal Challenge: EMU alumni gave more than 250 gifts over the 24-hour span to best the goal set for this challenge and unlock $15,000 to The University Fund. 252 out of 250 gifts needed were given!

Stronger Together Challenge: Non-alumni deepened their commitment to EMU by making at least 175 gifts throughout the day and unlocking $15,000 to student scholarships. 202 out of 175 gifts needed were given!

People of all ages enjoyed the LovEMU Cookout.

Future Royal Challenge: Because 15 prospective students attending LovEMU Giving Day paid their tuition deposit, we unlocked $15,000 to The University Fund.

Wake Me Up Before You Give-Give Challenge: Early birds helped reach this challenge by giving 75 gifts between 6 and 9 a.m. to unlock $10,000 to The University Fund. 88 out of 75 gifts needed were given!

We’ve Got Spirit Challenge: The EMU faithful showed their Royal pride during the pep rally by giving 50 gifts between 10 and 11 a.m. and unlocking $10,000 to The University Fund (as well as a chance to watch Herm pie the president). 54 out of 50 gifts needed were given!

EMU President Dr. Susan Schultz Huxman matched every dollar donated up to $9,000 in the Rally with Royal Women Challenge to raise more than $20,000 for the networking and philanthropy initiative. 

Rally with Royal Women Challenge: Royal Women for EMU, a new networking and philanthropy initiative, raises direct financial aid for students who want to attend EMU. President Huxman matched every dollar donated up to $9,000 in this challenge between noon and 3 p.m. A total of $21,632.70 was raised during this challenge! 

The Roar Heard ’Round the World Challenge: Donors joined Herm in letting their love for EMU be heard all around the world by awarding 75 gifts between 5 and 7 p.m. and unlocking $10,000 to The University Fund. 88 out of 75 gifts needed were given!

What’s Love Got to Do With It Challenge: Loving EMU is not a secondhand emotion. Because we received 50 gifts between 7:30 and 9 p.m., we unlocked $10,000 to student scholarships. 52 out of 50 gifts needed were given!

Carrie Us to Midnight Challenge: Athletics supporters showed their love for EMU sports and Athletics Director Carrie Bert by pitching in 100 donations between 9 p.m. and midnight to unlock $10,000 to the Athletics Annual Fund. 119 out of 100 gifts needed were given!

Thank you to everyone who donated, shared of their time to tell us how you LovEMU, and joined in the festivities on campus!

For more photos from the day’s events, swipe through our gallery below:

20240410-LovEMU Day-247

Join the Discussion on “Alumni, donors contribute $340K for LovEMU Giving Day 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *