Campaign Succeeds, and Then Some!

More than 37,000 donors help the College top its ambitious campaign goal.   by Kate Larrabee

On February 29, Ithaca College made history, completing its largest fund-raising effort ever. Not only was the $115 million goal met, but it was surpassed by $30 million for a total of $145 million! Thanks to this campaign, the College has opened its spectacular, sustainably designed School of Business building, which is being dedicated on April 24; will soon begin constructing several prime components of a badly needed athletics and events center; has ensured continuing support of the Ithaca Fund; is inaugurating new academic programs; added additional housing for 700 students; and established more than 145 new endowed and annual scholarships.

It all began soon after Peggy R. Williams became president. She enlisted the entire College constituency in creating an Institutional Plan that outlined key priorities for the College. “Nearly 400 people contributed,” Williams says, “so the priorities identified were truly representative of our collective vision.”

Those discussions made it clear that the College — whose endowment is healthy but not huge, and whose desire to avoid taking on new debt was based on thoughtful pragmatism — would need a successful campaign to raise money to meet those priorities.

During the “silent phase” of the campaign, Williams hosted leadership briefings with alumni, parents, and friends nationwide. “People were enthusiastic,” Williams says. “Many offered their support as campaign volunteers.”

“Ithaca College had never attempted a campaign of this magnitude,” says Shelley Semmler, vice president for institutional advancement, “but we came away from those early discussions confident of hearty support. We knew that $115 million was ambitious, but we also knew how badly the College needed a center for athletics and large public events, a new School of Business building, more student housing, scholarship aid, enhanced academic programming, and continuing Ithaca Fund support. And we knew how much our alumni and friends love Ithaca College. It seemed that we could succeed.”

Institutional advancement staff and volunteers met with some 2,400 alumni, parents, and friends, soliciting contributions. Since the campaign was publicly launched in October 2006, the College has hosted more than 35 events in 17 U.S. cities and London. “It’s been wonderful,” says Semmler, “meeting so many people who care about Ithaca College.”

More than 37,000 fans made campaign gifts — an unprecedented number. “We had never seen this level of commitment before,” Semmler says.

The School of Business building, which opened in January and was dedicated on April 24 as the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise, is slated to be the first undergraduate business school in the world to earn platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. It houses a center for sustainable business practices, a center for small business, and a trading center double the size of the one in Smiddy.

Construction will begin soon on the first elements of a new athletics and events center: the 130,000-square-foot field house, a lighted outdoor turf field, and an aquatics center. The field house will be both an athletic training center and the largest events venue on campus. Thanks to a tremendous gift from Atlantic Philanthropies, its aquatics center will be built during this phase as well. Fund-raising for additional features — which includes a $7.5 million challenge from Atlantic Philanthropies — is continuing.

With more than $30 million in contributions earmarked for that purpose, the College established more than 145 new scholarships during the campaign.

Gifts to the campaign have funded many new academic initiatives, including the Center for Faculty Research and Development, made possible by a multiyear gift from Atlantic Philanthropies; the Linden Center for Creativity and Aging, established by Jay Linden ’72 and Judi Samilow Linden ’73; a project to assess and improve students’ writing, funded by Ithaca College friend John Babcock; support for biology students engaged in summer research from a fund set up by Jack and the late Flo Bernard (former IC employees and parents of John Bernard ’89); a fund for students working on collaborative research with chemistry faculty, created in honor of retired faculty members Heinz and Judy Koch; and the acquisition of library holdings in Jewish studies funded by the Littauer Foundation Judaica Book Award. The College’s goal of $34 million for new student residences, at College Circle Apartments, was met early in the campaign.

Each year, gifts to the Ithaca fund support programs such as visiting scholars and artists, technology, faculty/student research and internships, and academic travel. By including continuing support of the Ithaca Fund among the campaign priorities, the College ensured that current needs were met as funds were being raised for the other priorities.

“We began planning this campaign 11 years ago,” says President Williams. “It was an important and necessary step to ensure that Ithaca College remains strong. I couldn’t be more proud of everyone involved with Ithaca College for lending such critical support. With this achievement, I can safely say that the next president will be able to usher in a new era for this fine institution.”