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Campaign exceeds goal

Resource type: News

The Ithacan Online |

By Aaron Munzer

President Peggy R. Williams announced last Friday that Ithaca College’s first Capital Campaign has far surpassed its goal after raising $145 million – a sum that jumped after a last-minute gift of $25 million from the Atlantic Philanthropies. The college beat their goal by more than $30 million.

Williams said she was completely surprised by the transformative donation, which will fund a large pool building in the planned Athletics and Events Center.

It has been an incredible ride, Williams said, after ripping open her shirt to expose a swimming and diving team shirt – an omen, she said – that she was wearing the night before the big announcement.

The campaign, which officially concluded Friday at midnight, was already on track to pass the original goal of $115 million after Edward Glazer ’92 gave the college a $2 million gift to support the Athletics and Events Center.

Though the campaign silently began in 2001, the college officially announced the public phase in October 2006. At that time, they had already raised more than $80 million. During the course of the campaign’s public phase, the college held 35 promotional events in 17 cities and met with more than 2,500 alumni, parents and friends to solicit donations.

Ithaca’s big gift isn’t so unusual in the world of higher education. According to a recent report by the Council for Aid to Education, gifts to schools from foundations – like the Atlantic Philanthropies – increased by 19.7 percent last year, reaching $8.5 billion nationwide.

Carl Sgrecci, vice president for finance and administration, who has been at the college for 41 years, said the campaign was the second most historic event in the college’s history, trailing only behind the creation of the South Hill campus.

As the head of the college’s finances, Sgrecci said it was a welcome change to announce a windfall rather than a withdrawal.

I’ve been to a lot of events where we spent a lot of money, he said. But today, we’re here to celebrate a reversal of cash flows.

Sgrecci noted the campaign was not without its challenges. For a time, he said, turnover within the development office was high. At least 10 members of its staff resigned or retired since the campaign began in 2001.

Many times our [development] staff was literally raided by competing institutions, he said.

But the college has seen huge gains in total donations in just a few years. In the 2003-04 school year, overall contributions rounded out at $5,341,143. By the 2006-07 school year, overall contributions shot up to $17,462,599, according to an analysis of figures provided by the college. Gifts from alumni alone increased 30 percent from 2006 to 2007.

The campus and students are already seeing the effects of the campaign, most visibly with the newly opened School of Business.

Later this spring or summer, construction will begin on the A&E Center, a 130,000-square-foot field house and outdoor lighted turf field. The cost of the new building is expected to be $35 million, and fundraising will continue for that project until goals are met. The building is expected to be the largest indoor venue in Tompkins County.

Beyond the infrastructure improvements, the campaign has created or endowed a number of new academic programs, 144 new scholarships and 40 more funds that benefit existing academic programs and athletics. The campaign has also provided support for the Ithaca Fund, which provides annual support for internships, research projects, technology and study abroad.

The new $24 million Gateway Building under construction by the front entrance to campus will not be funded by the capital campaign, said Dave Maley, associate director of media relations. The college has taken out bonds to pay for it.

Friday’s announcement ended with a video slideshow of students around campus telling the audience, You’ve made a world of difference.

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