New Recognition Group Launched for Young Alumni Donors

Throughout its 250-year history, the College of Charleston has been loved and supported by generations of alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students. The goal is for every person, family and organization that contributes to the College’s success, to find ways to express support that is meaningful to them – contributing financially, volunteering for an event, mentoring a student, the list goes on and on.

Robbie and Stacey ’05 Hollings, new Porter’s Circle members, with President Hsu

A popular and meaningful way many of the College’s donors demonstrate their support is through a planned gift – a gift left in a will or living trust, life insurance policy, or retirement plan beneficiary. The College recognizes donors who give a planned gift through the Cistern Society. Donors receive a commemorative memento, special mailings, invitations to exclusive Cistern Society events, and opportunities to engage with College leadership each year.

At the 25th annual Cistern Society donor luncheon in February 2020, Peggy Cieslikowski, director of Planned Giving, announced the launch of the Porter’s Circle, which aims to recognize young alumni who are no more than 15 years out of college and who make a planned gift of at least five percent from any asset in their portfolio.

During the inaugural year of the Porter’s Circle, which coincides with the College’s 250th Anniversary, 11 alumni stepped forward to make a planned gift and help ensure robust educational opportunities for future Cougars.

Will Breard ’08, new Porter’s Circle member

The goal of the Porter’s Circle is to engage young alumni in a way that appeals to their desire to support their alma mater and to see the impact they can have on students, as well as work for them from a financial standpoint. Many younger graduates are still growing personally and professionally, so their discretionary income may be limited. However, a planned gift or a combination planned gift plus current use gift may provide a more feasible option for making charitable contributions.

“My husband Matthew and I have always known that every little contribution counts, but there was a time when giving even a small donation was a burden for us,” says Adrienne McNew ’06, an inaugural Porter’s Circle donor. “Now that we are in a position to give more, it felt right to increase our impact. We chose the Scholarship Enrichment Fund for our gift.

“I received a scholarship from CofC, which allowed me to focus on my academics and my passions. For that, I am forever grateful.”

Just as the Cistern Society moniker pays tribute to the landmark that has served as the heart of the College for generations, the Porter’s Circle is so named to honor what is recognized as the “gateway” to the College. Often considered the most important rites of passage at CofC, freshmen pass through the arch at Porter’s Lodge on their first day of school and enter Cistern Yard for Convocation. During spring commencement, graduates – now alumni – exit Cistern Yard by way of Porter’s Lodge and out into the world.

Will Shalosky and Taylor DeBartola ’10, new Porter’s Circle members

One such alumnus is Nashville native Gage Baxter ’15, whose College of Charleston experience and scholarships inspired him to give. “Joining the Porter’s Circle was important to me because it is my small way of recognizing the incredible gifts of education, memories, friendships, and career opportunities that CofC has afforded me,” says Baxter. “I was lucky to receive a scholarship while attending the College, and I recognize it was because of generous donors who believed in the mission of the College of Charleston. I hope my legacy gift provides that same mission-based belief to future students and alumni and encourages those who have never made a gift to CofC to take the plunge.”

For more information about the Porter’s Circle or to alert us of your intention to make a gift, please contact Peggy Cieslikowski at or 843.953.6475.