Jillian Fournier, '25, calls Lehigh alumni and potential donors on Nov. 16 in Sayre Observatory. Fournier follows a script and shares personal anecdotes to connect with callers. (Zoe Aaron/B&W Staff)

Dialing into the Lehigh Liners


Every Thursday, Jillian Fournier sits in front of a computer in the Sayre Observatory with a caller headset on. She hears the auto-calling system ring as it tries to connect her with an alumni. When she hears the line pick up, she says, “Hi! Am I speaking with…” After the conversation, she hangs up and the system immediately calls a new potential donor.

Fournier, ‘25, is a part of the Lehigh Liners, a group of students who call alumni to request a financial donation to the university. The phone calls serve as a way to stay connected to Lehigh alumni, even decades after graduating. 

Fournier is the Lehigh Liners’ top caller this semester, having raised almost $20,000 for the school since the beginning of October. Last semester she raised $2,000, so she said she worked hard this semester to improve her calling skills.

The Liners usually start calling at the beginning of the semester but were delayed because they were down one supervisor. They are currently supervised by Joe Volturo, the director of the Lehigh Fund, but are looking for someone to take another position.

People can donate directly to the Lehigh Fund, which goes to current priorities, such as scholarships and financial aid. They also have the option to donate gifts to specific clubs, fraternities and sororities, sports organizations, and colleges according to the Lehigh Fund website.

Taylor Treonze, ‘25, a manager of Lehigh Liners, said the group currently has a weekly goal of $20,000, which helps motivate them to raise money. 

In past years, they reached their goal of $1 million for the fiscal year, according to the Liners’ wesbite. Each night, Fournier said donators usually give anywhere from around $500 to $5,000 collectively.

Dane Ishibashi, ‘25, also a Lehigh Liners manager, said he thinks a lot of the group’s success this semester is due to their determined callers.

“The callers are very diligent and enthusiastic to work,” Ishibashi said. “They really care about Lehigh itself. They want to learn more from the alumni, just hearing their stories and hoping to get the alumni to give back.”

Each student caller receives a script to guide them, but Fournier said she thinks editing and personalizing what she says helps her bond more with the donors and raise more money. 

“I try to connect more so it’s not so artificial and robot-sounding,” Fournier said. “I try to be as personable with (them) as possible — not just have them answer questions about their experience but have a conversation with them and talk about my experience as well so that they can connect to a student that goes here.” 

Treonze said managers schedule callers to certain alumni and assign them to groups of people to call. They track the data from each call, collecting information on which alumni they’re talking to, the amount of money they donate and where they’d like to designate funds. Treonze said they also work with companies to match donations and track that information as well. 

The Lehigh Liners work Sunday through Thursday from 6 p.m. until around 8:30 p.m.  

Treonze said she enjoys managing the callers in the Sayre Observatory as it motivates the staff to work harder because they have a support system around them.

“It’s a really safe space and we try to just make it as much of a community as possible,” Treonze said. “You’re able to speak your mind here, rant if you’d like. This is supposed to be a fun, relaxed side job for people who need some money during the semester.”

The Liners will be hiring additional callers for next semester. They offer an hourly rate but are able to receive bonuses in the form of extra hours of pay if they meet certain goals like getting three donation pledges in a shift. They currently have a Google Form on Handshake to apply.

“It’s a great way to talk more and gain confidence with speaking with people, especially for classes, presentations and projects,” Fournier said. “It definitely has made me feel more confident with talking to people. It’s a great job to have on campus.”

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