Of all the campaign initiatives, the Ithaca Fund has the most direct and immediate impact on the student experience. Last year, for example:
• the Ithaca Fund for the School of Business provided subscriptions to financial databases, such as Compustat;
• the Ithaca Fund for the Roy H. Park School of Communications helped create an academic symposium on the work of Rod Serling;
• the Ithaca Fund for the School of Music helped buy new recording equipment;
• the Ithaca Fund for the School of Humanities and Sciences allowed students to take internships and do collaborative research with faculty;
• the Ithaca Fund for the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance brought national experts to teach on campus;
• the Ithaca Fund for Athletics helped transport our teams; and
• The President’s Associates made leadership gifts that helped President Peggy R. Williams meet urgent needs that would otherwise not be met.
Alumni and parent participation—the percentage who contribute—in the Ithaca Fund has grown some in recent years, but alumni participation is still low. Only about 20 percent of Ithaca alumni contribute, while most colleges target a participation rate of 45 percent, and the national average among peer institutions is 30 percent.
Marsha Eger ’70 believes so strongly in her alma mater that she returned to become director of the Ithaca Fund after a successful career in nonprofit administration. “My hope,” she says, “is that during the campaign our loyal supporters will make a special gift to the Ithaca Fund and that others who have never supported the College will take this historic opportunity to participate.
“Our youngest alumni especially should know that even if they don’t have much money to spare, their annual Ithaca Fund donation helps tremendously. Grant-makers look at how many alumni support the College regularly—they’re looking at numbers of supporters, not dollars—before they decide to invest in us. The higher our percentage of participants, the more likely we are to receive grants for faculty-student research and other projects.”
The U.S. News & World Report and other annual college and university rankings also take alumni participation into account; in fact, USN&WR uses the alumni participation rate as the only indicator of alumni satisfaction when it publishes its annual ranking. Increasing the participation rate is one way Ithaca can move up in this prominent ranking—and a higher ranking will in turn make Ithaca diplomas more valuable and enable the College to attract ever higher-quality students and faculty and to further strengthen its offerings.
We know—because they tell us—that our alumni love Ithaca College. Now we hope they’ll realize how far their annual gift will go.
Young alumni, especially, have the opportunity to effect change in the participation rate, because even small gifts help boost it and annual gifts show commitment to the College’s future.
Consistent annual support from alumni, parents, and friends allows the College to direct resources more toward academic program needs and less to administrative costs and student financial aid. So, even as Ithaca College takes on major initiatives such as the construction of new buildings, your contributions to the Ithaca Fund will continue to make a world of difference. The goal for this campaign priority is $8 million.