GPA Updates Log

Graduation Pledge Alliance - 7th Update for 2004-2005

Hello Pledge Organizers: 


Good luck leading up to your graduation – for some but a week away, for others well over a month. Here is some useful information, as well as several reminders.


Use the Press Release!

      Below is the press release we use at the national level. The project has gained much prominent media attention over the years (USA Today, Business Week, Washington Post, etc.)—and was nearly aired on national TV a couple of times. Please send this out—either on your own, or preferably with your school’s public relations or media office. Just add a bit about your own Pledge effort, school, and contact info. The Pledge has been covered on local TV and we recommend you try that in addition to newspapers (an accompanying phone call really helps, we’ve found). This time of year, media are looking for a good angle on graduation, and getting press helps raise public consciousness, make students aware of the Pledge, and help campus organizing for next year. Don’t forget to send the release to your school newspaper if they haven’t run a story yet on the project.

Information We Need From You

Whenever you have the information, but please before you leave for the summer, provide us with the following information:

                  1.   Who will be your school's pledge contact(s) for next year (even if it's still you, please let us know, as a lack of a response indicates to us that you are gone permanently, making it difficult and time consuming to reach the new contact next year, if one exists). Of course, as we always say, we hope that the contact person is the rep of a committee running the project, within some permanent organization/department/program, so that the effort will continue year to year.

2.      A report on what will happen or happened at your school (fine to respond now even if graduation has not yet taken place). We realize folks are at different stages regarding the Pledge—from full institutionalization of the project on campus to barely beginning work on it. Whatever you can tell us is fine, with the more info you provide, the better: what Pledge activities you did this year, how many signed the pledge and what % of students that represents, what materials were given to pledge signers–cards/ribbons/certificates, what will happen on graduation day, what media--on and off campus--covered the pledge or were contacted.  

IF YOU WILL NOT GRADUATE FOR AT LEAST A COUPLE OF WEEKS, AND YOU ARE NEW TO THE PLEDGE, consider a small effort even this year (doing sign-ups during tabling, distributing literature downloaded from the web site, and maybe even handing out green ribbons and pins to be worn at graduation). Besides giving seniors an opportunity, if there is just a little publicity (signs or school newspaper article), it makes it more likely folks will get involved next year. It will be seen as a budding tradition.

 Keeping Connected with Alumni Pledge-takers

      One component of the pledge effort that hasn’t progressed as much as we would like is staying in contact with graduates after they leave school—we mentioned this briefly in the last update. This is very important for keeping graduates attuned to their pledge commitment. Some schools do this, but not many. Remember, the real value of the Pledge is what happens after graduation. Possibilities include newsletters, an email list (or listserv) for all those taking the pledge (perhaps separated by class year once enough classes/folks are on board), or tying into already existing email lists for your school. And work with your alumni office so they get out word to graduates in their mailings, publications, visits with alumni, etc. Remember that there is a piece on our web site ( that gives hints on working with that office—and one for working with Career Services, as well. 

      It might not be ready for this year’s graduation, but remember also our new, second web site, which will focus on helping Pledge signers already in the workforce to meet their Pledge commitment (resources, discuss concerns and issues with fellow Pledge signers, e.g.). It will also have a section on taking that commitment a step further if desired (getting involved in various causes, supporting businesses that try to make a difference, etc.) Even if it’s not ready by your graduation date, PLEASE inform your Pledge signers that will be up and running at some point and that they should periodically check what will be an important site for the project and for those participating in it who are now on the job.


Available at the Web Site: Sample Timeline and Pledge Card


      We have a new piece up in Section II on the web site: a sample timeline of one schools spring activities surrounding the Pledge. As we have noted before, a timeline keeps things moving along. We also have a revised version of the Pledge cards given to signers to keep as a reminder of their commitment. It is a two sided card (Pledge wording on front and Pledge web site info on back), in PDF format, which can be modified/individualized for your school.


Good luck,




Neil Wollman

National Coordinator

MC Box 135

Manchester College

North Manchester, IN  46962





Grads nationwide are taking Graduation Pledge

Alliance seeks social, environmental consciousness and action

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – Thousands of graduates from more than 100 colleges and universities across the nation are taking the Graduation Pledge and pinning a small green ribbon on their gowns at commencement ceremonies. The ribbon may be small, but it speaks volumes about the character and conviction of those displaying it.

Seniors take the Graduation Pledge to declare that in their future jobs their concerns extend beyond how they personally benefit:

 “I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.”

The Graduation Pledge is coordinated nationwide by the Graduation Pledge Alliance, hosted at Manchester College under the direction of Professor Neil Wollman since 1996. (The Pledge began in 1987 at Humboldt State University in California.) Students take the Pledge at both small liberal arts colleges, such as Macalester, and in Ivy League universities, such as University of Pennsylvania. And the Pledge has now spread abroad, as nearby as Canada and as far away as Australia.

Graduates who voluntarily sign the Pledge have turned down jobs with which they did not feel morally comfortable and have worked to make changes in the workplace. For example, they have promoted recycling at their organizations, removed racist language from a training manual, worked for gender parity in high school athletics, and helped to convince an employer to refuse a chemical weapons-related contract.

Jamie M. Riedeman of Indianapolis took the pledge and wore the ribbon when she received her bachelor’s degree in 1999 and her Master’s of Accountancy from Manchester College in 2000. “To be socially responsible, you need to take a step back to see what you have and not carry an attitude that you deserve things,” said Riedeman, who now is controller for Associated General Contractors and does accounting for non-profit organizations. Riedeman also audited non-profits at a previous job. “There are so many organizations and non-profits out there,” she said. “Someone needs to make sure they are spending those gifts wisely.”

Dana Nixon of St. Louis, Mo. took the Pledge when she received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Manchester in 1996. “I knew I was driven toward service,” she said. “Once your eyes are open to injustice, they can never be closed.” Her activism has included petitioning against the expansion of Indiana’s highway systems.

William Benysh, a biology-chemistry teacher for Wabash (Ind.) Community Schools, took the pledge in1989. The Manchester College graduate says he is confident in its message. “I feel now the Graduation Pledge was a great statement of optimism and an acceptance of the responsibility of adulthood,” he said. “I took those words seriously. It's strange to think back on the impact that the Graduation Pledge and the mind-set that I had at the time has had on me. Social and environmental responsibility is a way of life I have chosen.”

 For more information about the Graduation Pledge Alliance, contact Dr. Neil Wollman at 260-982-5346,

Manchester College offers more than 45 areas of study to 1,075 students from 29 states and 33 countries. As part of its complete liberal arts catalog, the residential college offers nationally acclaimed accounting, pre-med and peace studies programs and a master’s degree in accounting. For more information about Manchester College, visit the web site at