Nov. 15, 2006 -- University politics professor Larry Sabato is bringing his self-proclaimed “competitive nature” to his post as this year’s honorary chairman of the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. He’s determined to do whatever he can to lead U.Va. employees to surpass last year’s record of giving. To that end, he hopes to inspire greater employee participation by contributing a dollar to his designated charity for every person who donates to the CVC.
Last year, 3,600 U.Va. employees participated. So this year, if 4,000 employees join the CVC, Sabato would contribute at least $4,000 toward his charity, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. He has also offered campaign leaders a “Lunch with Larry” at this Pavilion IV residence as an incentive to encourage giving among employees.
University employees can support their favorite charities by participating in the CVC, a workplace-giving program that allows state employees to designate a financial gift to any of 1,400 participating charities of all stripes. U.Va. employees have a long tradition of leading the state in this program. Last year, they donated $694,647 to approximately 400 charities, the bulk of which are in the local area.
An interview with Sabato, the Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics and director of the Center for Politics, about the CVC is excerpted below.
Q: Why are you an enthusiastic supporter of the CVC?
Sabato: This is the best collective opportunity we have to make a difference for literally hundreds of groups and needy societies and people all across the commonwealth. …It takes so little effort. Everybody can do something, even if you don’t have much money; just contribute a dollar per paycheck.
Q: Why did you decide to become the honorary chair of the 2006 CVC?
Sabato: It’s an honor and I want to help, and I’m determined to beat the previous record [of giving]. I’m competitive and that’s a way to win — to beat the prior total.
Q: How did you come up with this idea to contribute a dollar for every person who donates to the campaign?
Sabato: I’ve been around here a long time, and I have a lot of friends and unfortunately a few enemies — you accumulate them in life. I thought, for the friends, this would be a pleasant inducement, and for the enemies, they can give a dollar and force me to give a dollar.
Q: Why do you give your CVC donation to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network?
Sabato: Unfortunately, my family and my life have been touched by pancreatic cancer repeatedly. My father, with whom I was very close, died at entirely too young an age of pancreatic cancer. He lived just three months after diagnosis; it’s a horrible disease. I’ve had other very close relatives die of it. I’ve also had so many other people who I’ve known in life and care about touched by it, including Debbie Ryan [head coach of U.Va. women’s basketball team], who I’m delighted to say is one of the great survivors of pancreatic cancer, one of the only survivors. Emily Couric, who was just a marvelous state senator. Sybil Todd, who was associate dean of students here for many years, is waging a courageous fight against it. The statistics are just stunningly bad. Ninety-six percent of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die within a year; most die within six months. Right now, it is a death sentence, with a few exceptions like Debbie Ryan. So we have to do something about it. I went through [the list of CVC charities] and I could have given to a hundred different things, but I think you try to find something you have a personal connection with that makes the giving more significant.
My guess is that thousands of our staffers and faculty and employees have seen similar cases of a wide variety of illnesses and concerns. Once you go through it, you want to do something to help; otherwise, we just sit here and take it, and you have to fight.
Q: What would you say to those employees who have never before participated in the CVC, to encourage them to do so?
Sabato: Now is the time. Do it. It’s so easy, and you’ll feel great that you’re a part of the solution. You get back more than you’re giving.
The 2006 CVC kicked off at U.Va. on Oct. 16 and will run through Nov. 30. New this year, University employees can donate online through payroll deduction at www.virginia.edu/cvc. It’s a fast, easy and secure way for University employees to support the causes that matter most to them. For more information, please e-mail email@example.com.
A video message from Sabato is available on the CVC Web site: www.virginia.edu/cvc.