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Howard Tellepsen Challenges Classmates for 50th Reunion

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Tellepsen challenges classmates, energizes giving

With six weeks to go before Homecoming & Reunion Weekend this past October, Howard T. Tellepsen Jr., CE 1966, wanted to do something to motivate his fellow 50th reunion classmates to meet their goal. As the reunion committee fund chair, he felt a sense of urgency and a sense of responsibility.

So, he made a leadership commitment of $1 million, half of which was used to create the Tellepsen Challenge: a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $500,000, of any new gift or commitment made by members of the Class of 1966 under the auspices of Tech’s reunion giving program. He directed the remaining funds to the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Tellepsen, who was awarded the Dean Griffin Community Service Award in 2015 for his philanthropic leadership in his community of Houston, Texas, and at Georgia Tech, had considerable experience — and positive results — with this type of challenge with other nonprofits.

The response? The full $500,000 of the Tellepsen Challenge was matched. For Tellepsen, it wasn’t only about reaching a goal. It was about the additional money that was raised, money that “would go to whatever my classmates wanted it to,” he said. “They could set up an endowment for their school or their college, or for any area that had special meaning to them. And the impact would be doubled.”

His matching challenge inspired almost two dozen new gifts and commitments, including $200,000 for Roll Call, and the establishment of new endowment funds supporting the Tech Promise scholarship program, both need- and merit-based undergraduate scholarships, and athletic scholarships. “It was really exciting to me,” Tellepsen said, “knowing that Georgia Tech benefited in many different ways, across so many different disciplines and areas that otherwise would not have benefited from our reunion giving.”

Although he and his wife, Carolyn, have a long history of giving back to Tech, there is something special about reunion giving. “It’s the loyalty and support that alumni have for the school,” he explained. “We all feel that it was hard while we were there, but once we got out and got our degrees, we look back and feel so proud of what we accomplished. Georgia Tech’s reputation and its legacy makes us even prouder, because it has continued to gain global recognition.”

To inquire about making a gift in support of your milestone reunion class (1967, 1977, or 1992), contact any development officer or Rachel Donnelly, director of development for Reunion Giving, at 404.894.2454 or rachel. donnelly@dev.gatech.edu.