The Colgate Scene ON-LINE

Campaign Colgate tops $157.9 million
Fulfilling The Promise of Leadership

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One of the early accomplishments of Campaign Colgate, Persson Hall provides a home for the social sciences. The building, designed by Tai Soo Kim, is named to honor principal donors A. Theodore Persson ’42 and his wife Helen H’84.

by James Leach

When future generations look back to measure the achievements of Campaign Colgate, they will fix on the number $157,968,113 — more than $27 million over the goal — and judge the effort an unqualified success.

But the volunteers, donors and staff whose energy and gifts made possible the largest fundraising drive in the college’s history measure their accomplishments in ways beyond dollar totals. When they cite intangibles they mention the alumni, parents and friends brought closer to the college by the campaign effort, or the camaraderie that develops when working toward a common goal. And when they cite more tangible evidence of the ways the college was made better by the money given to the campaign they mention:

  • New sources of aid for deserving students who otherwise couldn’t afford a Colgate education;
  • The power of an Annual Fund that increased by nearly 40 percent;
  • Added endowment that will reduce the college’s dependence on tuition;
  • More endowed faculty chairs that enable the college to attract and keep the best teachers;
  • Funds to underwrite programs of study abroad;
  • Support of summer research opportunities for students;
  • A new home for the social sciences;
  • A building that renews the college’s commitment to the arts;
  • New technology and laboratory equipment;
  • Transformation of an aging pool into a modern fitness center;
  • An artificial turf field that memorializes a popular alumnus;
  • Refurbished space that improved both academic and athletic facilities;
  • And so many other advances that they will tell you it is impossible to recount them all.
"A campaign raises money to advance the mission and goals of the university," said President Neil Grabois. "In the case of Campaign Colgate, there were capital needs, endowment needs and a clear need for the college to support a larger portion of its expenditures through the Annual Fund. The campaign was phrased in terms of those three goals, and we exceeded our expectations by surpassing each one."

At the outset, assessing needs

Fundraisers and volunteers say that campaigns are an important part of a college’s fundraising cycle, providing time for assessment and celebration as well as increased solicitation. "There is something galvanizing about making a change in one’s behavior — campaigning — that enables you to take a fresh and more dispassionate look at the needs of the college," said Grabois. "It is an opportunity for all groups on campus — students, faculty, administrators and the board of trustees — to examine with care the college’s needs over the decade to follow."


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Jack Bell '98, a veteran of the study group to Russia, had the opportunity to talk with Mikhail Gorbachev during the former Soviet president's visit to campus. Campaign gifts support groups that study in Russia, China and Australia.

From that process emerges a description of the college’s aspirations — a case statement that defines the campaign. In the case for Campaign Colgate, the needs were pegged to "The Promise of Leadership." In his first draft of the needs of the campaign, shaped with the help of a campus planning committee comprising students, faculty and staff, Grabois had written: ". . . this campaign is about making a difference for the truly talented young women and men who will someday lead our nation in a global society . . . . This is a campaign for personal and institutional leadership."

The case statement declared: "For American education, it is critically important to preserve an educational experience that promotes leadership. Colgate offers a model for unlocking the full potential of young people at a pivotal point in their lives."


Board of Trustee Chair Wm. Brian Little ’64 saw the theme of leadership from a different angle when, as the second of the campaign’s three chairs, he wrote to Colgate alumni, parents and friends to say: "It is a simple idea, this one of leadership. It says that you and I, today, will take responsibility for Colgate, without waiting for others to set the example. By what we give and what we do, we become the architects of Colgate’s future."

By the time the campaign became public in September 1994, Grabois and the board had defined $130 million in needs. Of that total, $45.8 million had already been committed through gifts or pledges in the private or "quiet" phase of the campaign. Included in those early gifts were the funding for a major new building for the social sciences, Persson Hall, and a $1 million conversion of the former swimming pool in Huntington Gymnasium into the Wm. Brian Little Fitness Center, both of which were dedicated during an enthusiastic campaign kickoff weekend in Hamilton.

On meeting needs

The case statement made clear that Campaign Colgate was a comprehensive effort, ". . . to strengthen the whole of the Colgate experience: teaching, academic programs, facilities, student life and athletics." It was also comprehensive in the gifts it sought, "both large capital gifts and increasing levels of annual support." 

Today, reviewing the inventory of needs spelled out at the beginning of the campaign reveals that most were met or exceeded, while a few remain to be funded by future efforts. That situation is not unusual, explains Colgate Vice President and Campaign Director Robert Tyburski ’74: "Needs change during the course of a campaign, and volunteers and staff have continually adapted their fund-raising to match the interests of donors with the emerging aspirations of the college."

Looking beyond individual needs, the lasting impact of the campaign was summed up by Grabois, who said: "We have reached a new plateau in expectations of ourselves and the Colgate community. That new plateau, which can’t be achieved with business as usual but requires a campaign, will benefit the university and the next generation of Colgate students enormously."

In raising $90 million in endowment, at the same time it met facilities needs and raised the level of giving to the annual fund, the campaign has taken a serious step toward addressing the college’s reliance on tuition income. "The reality is that, if we compare ourselves with our peer institutions, their endowments were growing as Colgate’s grew," said Tyburski. "This campaign has more to do with balancing demands on the budget from within the college than it does with drawing comparisons to the endowments of others."

Treasurer Elizabeth Eismeier agrees, and says the campaign will change the way Colgate people think about the college: "Colgate has excelled at living within its means. The risk in that approach can be that you don’t think big. Thinking realistically about how to do things efficiently, how to maximize the current use of resources, can at times make it difficult to just open things up. From the campaign I can see a growing sense of confidence that the funding will be there, that we can put together the financing to make major new initiatives possible. That’s a change of character for Colgate. It has expanded our vision."

Here are examples of ways that vision was expanded by the campaign:

The Annual Fund

While Campaign Colgate incorporated appeals for endowment and support of capital projects, organizers established in the case statement that "Annual giving is the campaign’s first priority." It was, they said, the "cornerstone of the campaign," and "the most powerful means available to Colgate to compensate for the college’s modest endowment."


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The old pool in Huntington Gymnasium was transformed into the modern Wm. Brian Little Fitness Center with gifts from Board of Trustees Chairman Little and others. The center serves both conditioning and social needs of campus and community.

In 1991–92, when trustees and college officials were deciding to launch a campaign, unrestricted gifts to the Annual Fund totaled $3.1 million, and the fund raised $4.9 million for Colgate purposes overall. During the 1996–97 fiscal year that ended May 31, unrestricted gifts to the annual fund amounted to $4.5 million, and overall giving to the fund topped $6.7 million, an increase of more than 35 percent.

Two challenge funds — one a $1.3 million challenge early in the campaign and the other a $12 million challenge issued as the campaign entered its final year — helped send the Annual Fund to record levels. Van Smith ’50, who as board chair was also the first chair of the campaign, was a sponsor in both those challenges, and made a $1 million commitment to the $12 million challenge. 



A reorganization of Presidents’ Club giving levels under then-chair Jim Elrod ’76 attracted a record number of donors to the club including alumni from recent classes, and also strengthened the Annual Fund.

"The campaign helped people see that gifts to the Annual Fund do more than provide lightbulbs," said Tyburski. Annual Fund appeals stressed that "The Annual Fund is Everything," and donors were offered opportunities to direct their Annual Fund support to the arts, the library, academic programs, financial aid, study groups or athletics. 

As the campaign ended on December 31, the 1997–98 Annual Fund was midway in its fund-raising year, $450,000 and 1,400 donors ahead of the previous year’s December numbers, and on pace for another record-setting year. Over the course of the campaign, the fund had exceeded its $30 million goal by $5 million. 

Still, a post-campaign goal remains for future Annual Funds. As the case statement said: "Our long-term ambition is to have the Annual Fund provide 10 percent of each year’s budget, a rate comparable to the best colleges in the nation." To that point, Brian Little comments: "We are part way there with the Annual Fund providing 8.2 percent of this year’s budget, but we need to keep moving up to the 10 percent level."

Financial aid

At the outset of Campaign Colgate, the college was budgeting $13.1 million annually for financial aid, only 14 percent of which was supported from permanent funds. The college’s operating budget allowed a target of aiding 30 percent of each entering class, a figure well below the percentage aided at peer colleges. 

The urgency of the need for funds to finance aid inspired one anonymous donor to give a $1.6 million spendable gift early on. That gift bolstered financial aid resources during the course of the campaign while new endowment was being sought to underwrite permanent support for aid funds. 

The anonymous gift had the immediate effect of enabling the college to budget aid for 34 percent or more of its incoming classes. Other donors, meanwhile, responded to the appeal for aid beyond the expectations of campaign planners, and the total of gifts and pledges to endowment for aid exceeded the campaign’s $30 million goal by $2 million. Computed at the college’s spending rate of about 5 percent for endowed funds, that sum will provide more than $1.5 million in new support each year for the student aid budget. Given the positive impact of the economy and new gifts, endowment support for the college’s financial aid budget will increase by nearly 20 percent next year alone, allowing Colgate to continue offering aid to 34 to 35 percent of the entering class. 

Grabois described the response to the appeal for aid as, "Dramatic. One of the pleasant surprises of this campaign. It seems to me a wonderful sign that our alumni want to make the Colgate experience available to students, regardless of their background."

Eismeier, who feared that the economic prosperity and high employment of the late ’90s might result in a society that was "prepared to leave some people behind," is encouraged by the support for aid. "Major donors have stepped forward to say that the kind of socio-economic mixing that happens at Colgate is an important part of the educational program, a part of the Colgate character."

Of the many gifts and pledges that built the endowment for aid, one fund in particular attracted great attention. Classmates and friends of the late Tom Wilson ’67 created a scholarship fund in his memory that currently approaches $750,000. "The Wilson Scholarship Fund establishes a new level of giving for memorial funds," said Tyburski, "and will perpetuate Tom’s memory in a meaningful way through future generations of Colgate people."

Faculty chairs

Jane Pinchin, who came to Colgate in 1969 to teach English, said she had "the incredible good fortune" to become dean of the faculty and provost during the years of the campaign. She became dean in the summer of 1994, "just as the campaign case statement was being written," she notes. "The sense was that others would be working to make one’s dreams come true. It was the luckiest of positions to be in."


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Donors to Campaign Colgate created nine new endowed faculty chairs.  Giving also exceede the campaign's $30 million goal for student aid, enabling the college to aid to a larger percentage of incoming students.

Many of Pinchin’s dreams advanced toward reality over the course of the campaign — new academic buildings, support for signature programs, "endless things," as she notes — and near the forefront of those achievements was the addition of at least nine new faculty chairs, with more in development as the campaign wound down.

"Endowed chairs recognize and reward the contributions of the extraordinary teachers and scholars who are essential to our continued excellence," the case statement said. 

Robert Hung-Ngai Ho ’56 came forward early in the campaign with an array of capital and endowed gifts, among them an endowed chair in Asian Studies.


Former trustee Paul J. Schupf ’58 created the W.S. Schupf Chair in Far Eastern Studies in memory of his father, Willem Schupf, a Dutch national who operated a diamond merchant firm in Singapore and the Dutch East Indies between World Wars I and II. The Schupf Chair was remarkable for, among other aspects, the speed with which it was accomplished. When he announced his gift, Schupf credited Little, Grabois, Eismeier and Pinchin for accomplishing "all the necessary background, paper and numbers work discreetly and within 48 hours."

Among the other endowed professorships created during the campaign:

The Jean Picker Chair, given by Harvey Picker ’36 in memory of his wife, a former trustee, recog-nizes the special contributions of women faculty members.

The Murray W. and Mildred K. Finard Chair in Jewish Studies will bring to campus this spring the Israeli novelist Aharon Appel-feld, "one of the best known writers in Israel today," said Pinchin.

A gift of endowment from an anonymous donor establishes a new chair in philosophy.

The Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation underwrites support for general education with a chair in the liberal arts core curriculum. To meet a challenge from the foundation, the campaign raised a $500,000 endowment to support the liberal arts core.

The details of at least three other chairs, one given by former trustee Kirk Raab ’59, another given by former trustee and chair of the campaign’s major gifts committee Michael Batza Jr. ’63 and his wife Patty, and yet another given by Donald ’55 and Connie Rebar, were being finalized as this account went to press.

Building a space to learn

Early in the advanced gift phase of the campaign, emeritus trustee A. Theodore Persson ’42 and his wife Helen H’84 had each provided leadership gifts that enabled the college to move forward with a long-needed home for the social sciences. Persson Hall, designed by Tai Soo Kim, not only created modern spaces where social sciences would be taught at Colgate, but situated as it was between the upper and lower campuses, and presenting an exterior that combined the elements of other important structures on campus, it shaped the college’s thinking about a new art and art history building and the entire philosophy of the lower campus.

"When I became dean, the arts building was a glint in the eye of possibility that I hoped for more than any other geographical space," said Pinchin. "It seemed a million miles from completion. Then came the gift of [the cam-paign’s third chair] John Golden ’66 and his wife Suzanne to put the building on our radar screen, followed by the extraordinarily generous gift of Judy and Brian Little that allows us all to know it will be real." Fundraising for the new building is still under way, but the gifts of the Littles, Goldens and others have ensured a summer 1999 groundbreaking. Designed by Chad Floyd of Centerbrook Architects, the building helps give shape to a new plan for the lower campus, conceived by Cooper, Robertson and Partners (Scene, November 1997).

Persson Hall and the new arts building are further evidence of the way the campaign expanded Colgate’s vision, said Eismeier. "The placement of Persson Hall fired the imagination of what could happen down the hill around the student union and library," she said. "What was going to be an addition to Ryan has become an entire building. The whole development down the hill will be a visible sign of change."


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Harrington "Duke" Drake '41, honorary chair of Campaign Colgate, cut the ribbon in November 1995 when the college's newest residence hall was named in his honor. Chairman emeritus of the board of trustees, Drake gave the campaign's largest gift.

The campaign has also fueled renovations and improvements to many of the existing campus buildings. Robert Ho’s gifts to the campaign included a dramatic rebuilding of the main lecture room in Lawrence Hall, as well as a refurbished center for the study of China. The renovation of Lawrence was also aided by gifts from the Max Kade Foundation for the German Center, and the W. M. Keck Foundation for a humanities resource center.

In Case Library, a gift from Harvey Picker created a classroom for computer-aided learning with the latest equipment at every station. In Lathrop Hall, gifts from Booth Ferris Foundation financed a renovation of a heavily used lecture hall. A second campaign gift from Paul Schupf enabled the college to purchase a building in the village for much-needed art studio space.


Campaign support also enabled the college to renovate its sports medicine facilities and locker rooms for men and women varsity athletes. In Huntington Gymnasium, gifts from Brian Little and his friends created a modern fitness center that meets the conditioning needs of varsity and recreational athletes from the campus and the community. A new adjoining juice bar provides a healthy lunch or refreshment after a workout.

One of the most dramatic improvements to the college’s athletic facilities is Tyler’s Field, the college’s only outdoor artificial turf playing field, which provides for practice and competition in field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, football and softball. Tony Whaling ’59 and his family and friends gave the field in memory of Tyler Whaling ’93, who excelled in both football and lacrosse as an undergraduate.

There will be more improvements to Colgate’s facilities in the future — architects have advanced a plan for renovating space for student activities, and the lower campus improvements will one day include dramatic changes at the library — but Campaign Colgate answered important needs on a campus that is widely regarded as one of the country’s most beautiful.

Visiting and visitors

In the front row for Mikhail Gorbachev’s spring ’97 lecture in Cotterell Court were Gerald Nordberg Jr. ’57 and his wife, Linda, two people whose interest in Russia and Colgate translated to important support for the campaign. Following the Gorbachev lecture, as the former Soviet president and his party flew to their next destination on a jet provided through the campaign generosity of former trustee John Runnette ’54, the Nordbergs dined in Hamilton with many of the students who had traveled on a Russia Study Group made possible through the Nord-bergs’ support.

Robert Ho’s support of campaign needs also included endowment for the perpetuation of a study group. Ho’s interest is in the study group that regularly takes Colgate students and one of their professors to China for a semester of study and acculturation.

An anonymous foundation supported development of a study group at University of Wollangong in Australia, providing study abroad opportunities for students in environmental studies.

Study groups broaden the opportunities for Colgate students, not only by sending students and faculty to culturally different and significant environments, but also by incorporating the newly acquired world views of those returning study group veterans into the campus community. Yet another way of importing outside views to the campus is through visiting speakers. Trustee Michael Wolk’s (’60) campaign support of a visiting lecture series is evidence of that influence. The most recent speaker in the annual lecture series was Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading US researcher and government spokesman on AIDS.

An anonymous donor has provided funding to establish a center for the study of ethics and world societies that will, among other initiatives, bring guests of international stature to campus for a symposium comprising lectures focused on a specific topic, such as art, censorship and justice, or genocide and nationalism. 

Research and equipment

Dean Pinchin often cites opportunities for student research with faculty members as one of the signatures of a Colgate education. 

The campaign sought to increase those annual opportunities from the present 100-plus, and a handful of gifts in particular provided notable support. 

Through a major gift, Justus Schlichting ’43 and his wife, Jayne, established an endowment that will enable as many as five students per summer to pursue research with Colgate faculty. A physics major at Colgate, Schlicht-ing said the gift was motivated by his and his wife’s belief that there is always "far, far more to learn."


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Van P. Smith (center) chaird the private phase of Campaign Colgate, at the same time chairing the board of trustees. Wm. Brian Little (left) succeeded Smith as campaign chair when the effort went public in September 1994. John A. Golden '66 became the campaign's third chair two years later when Little was chosen to head the board of trustees.

Summer research also received major support from organizations such as the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Escalating costs for technology, in the sciences in particular, but in other disciplines as well, place a growing demand on college budgets to ensure that students will be learning on the latest equipment — the equipment they will encounter after graduation. A generous grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation will provide a highly sophisticated suite of equipment for students in the new environmental studies program.

Two grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have provided support for faculty development, enabling faculty to learn how to adapt new technologies in their teaching. The first grant, a collaborative venture with Hamilton College, focused on foreign language learning. The second established a mentoring system to help faculty take advantage of the technological resources available to them and their students. 


 "You could ask what kinds of educational experiences make it more likely that someone will become a leader, and of course that’s where the magic of Colgate comes in," said Neil Grabois. "I confess that I can’t put my finger on any one thing, but it is in part our entrepreneurial spirit, a sense that we can get things done, even if we don’t have all the resources that others think are necessary to do it. 

"As we contemplated the campaign we saw that our inadequate capital base created gaps in our capacity to offer our students even more opportunities where the entrepreneurial spirit could flourish. The campaign has addressed those gaps, and it has also enabled us to ensure that our extraordinary faculty will continue to make their contributions to the college. It has created opportunities for us to bring to campus leaders in intellectual life who enrich the experience of our students, helping them to see the world in fuller perspective and making them more effective leaders."

Campaigns, by their nature, help colleges in virtually as many ways as there are donors. "In ways that we can see and feel, this campaign has made Colgate an even better place," said Neil Grabois.



'Optimism and energy from all corners'

by Virginia Carter Collins

In the end, it was the entire team and not a single player that brought home the victory of Campaign Colgate, a victory that extends much deeper than the $157,968,113 raised. Those closest to the effort proudly acknowledge the tremendous financial success: this campaign has raised more funds for Colgate than all previous campaigns combined. And another significant number emerges: dur-ing the course of the campaign, 80 percent of alumni made a gift, and a similar percentage of faculty also participated in the effort.

Celebrating the dollars and numbers, however, goes hand-in-hand with celebrating the intangibles and the many partnerships that were formed.

"I’ll remember the campaign with a great sense of accomplishment and gratitude to all those who participated," said Wm. Brian Little ’64. "I’ll also remember having worked with a bunch of wonderful staff and volunteers who really pulled together and worked relentlessly on behalf of Colgate.

"On a more personal note, it was a special opportunity to renew old acquaintances and make new ones," added Little. "It’s just overwhelming how much Colgate people really do care about the college. Even if they weren’t writing the biggest checks, most people were positive, supportive and wanted to help however they could."

John Golden ’66 witnessed the same enthusiasm and dedication as he traveled around the country for Colgate. "The most salient aspect of the campaign for me was the confirmation of the breadth and depth of Colgate graduates," noted Golden. "It’s not that I was surprised, but I was reassured of how excellent a student body we have had and continue to have. There’s a spirit that the college is in good hands with the next generation."

Even when it came to leadership for the campaign, a team effort characterized Colgate’s progress. Golden became the campaign’s third national chair, leading the final charge that ultimately pushed the effort beyond its original goal of $130 million. He inherited a solidly built foundation from Brian Little when Little was named chair of the board of trustees in May 1996. Little succeeded Van Smith ’50, whose long service to Colgate included the dual task of serving as chair of the board and chairing the campaign during its "silent phase" from June 1, 1992, until it was launched in September 1994.

"It’s unusual to have three different chairs during the course of a campaign, yet the seams in the transitions were undetectable," said Robert Tyburski ’74. "Colgate produces leaders, and our three chairs reflected the incredible talent that characterizes the alumni body."

Leading Colgate into the 21st century

As the campaign took off under the banner of "The Promise of Leadership," another leader stepped into the fundraising spotlight. Among his priorities as president, Neil Grabois had been working for months with the board of trustees to conceive and plan a campaign that would position Colgate for the 21st century.

"Of the ‘stars’ in this campaign, I would first and foremost name Neil Grabois," said Little. "He runs the college in a first-class manner. Throughout the campaign, he articulated a vision for Colgate that was both inspiring and informing."


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Gifts to the Annual Fund over the course of the campaign totaled more than $30 million, supporting activities from intramurals to the library and the arts.

Alongside volunteers and staff, Grabois took that vision across the country, meeting prospective donors in their offices and homes, over breakfast, lunch and dinner, and in small gatherings called presidential roundtables. He brought to life the college’s needs, goals and achievements. His passion for Colgate’s strengths — its academic program, talented faculty, the physical campus itself and opportunities ranging from exceptional study groups to first-rate athletics — added depth and perspective to the words and images outlined in the case statement, a central publication that all alumni received when the campaign was launched in 1994.


As plans were being laid for the campaign prior to the public launch, Van Smith took the important step of making his own initial gift, as did other members of the board of trustees. Smith was faced with asking President Grabois also to make a financial commitment.

"That was my most difficult assignment," recalled Smith. "We already were asking him to leave home, travel extensively — often without his wife, Miriam — and here we were asking for a donation too.

"His response touched me the most of anything that occurred in those early days of the campaign," added Smith. "With the flash of his smile, Neil assured me of his personal willingness to support the campaign financially. We can all be proud that Neil was at the helm, participating 100 percent in this campaign."

The president’s role was all the more remarkable given that his previous experience in higher education had included very little fundraising. 

"I saw Neil in New York on December 11, just three weeks before the campaign ended. He was as fresh and energetic then as he was five years ago when this whole thing started," said John Golden. "His leadership has been exemplary. He would have made an outstanding CEO involved with a public offering of Colgate securities. In fact, it’s as though he has been on a five-year road show doing that very thing."

A launch that soared and never dipped

Neil Grabois recalls that his "five-year road show" began with no small degree of trepidation over the looming goal of raising $130 million. Others shared his feeling that the goal would be "very hard" to reach. 

"Our campaign began with cautious optimism," said Tyburski. "We were motivated to make our case convincing so that donors at all levels would recognize the benefits their support would offer our faculty and students."

When the campaign kicked off in grand style on September 17, 1994, Little announced to the Colgate community gathered for the gala dinner in Cotterell Court that the campaign total already stood at $45,877,104. Among the leadership gifts was an $8 million commitment from Harrington "Duke" Drake ’41, who chaired the Campaign for Colgate fundraising effort during the 1980s. He served as honorary chair of this campaign. 

As the books closed on December 31, Drake’s commitment remained the largest of the campaign.

The tradition of "stretch giving" that Drake established was match-ed by the current board of trustees whose commitments totaled $47.5 million by the close of the effort. The Alumni Corporation Board of Directors not only met their target of 100 percent participation, but they also more than doubled their original goal by giving more than $6.1 million.

"In our last campaign, the motivation and inspiration were provided by the largest gift — a generous $16.1 million from Curtis Frank ’25," said Little. "His gift represented almost 19 percent of the total $85,161,625 raised. The success of this campaign can be attributed to a broad base of support from most members of the Colgate community at each gift level."

Hard work, magic, a lucky market, but no formula

Breaking the original goal and achieving $157.9 million for the campaign reflected a participatory spirit that many would agree is part of Colgate’s fabric.


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The campaign attracted new funds to underwrite purchase of the latest equipment -- tools comparable to those students will encounter in their careers.

"What we’ve had is an enormous outpouring of gifts," observed Grabois. "There’s a kind of magic in this place, a sense of family, that carried over to the campaign. What’s interesting, too, is that none of this was ever formulaic. 

As we talked with donors, we were continually exploring how their interests might fit with the college’s needs. It was a wonderful challenge, but there was no textbook approach.

"We succeeded not so much because of a grand, unidimensional strategy but more because of many layers — and many donors — coming together," he added. "Often we responded on the run to rapidly changing circumstances, continually devising and revising strategies."


John Golden agreed that the campaign succeeded because of flexibility and a "willingness to continually assess where we were." As someone intimate with the ups and downs of Wall Street from his career with Goldman Sachs, he also pointed out the favorable economic climate that surrounded the campaign.

"For a major portion of the campaign we were blessed with an incredibly strong stock market," said Golden. 

"We are fortunate that Colgate is a wonderful institution, and like many other deserving organizations it has benefited from a strong market."

A challenge within a challenge

All those closest to the effort agreed that one important strategic layer was the $12 million challenge initiated in the fall of 1996. Again, a team — 13 strong — joined together to support Campaign Colgate.

"The challenge was a key tactic that added even more momentum to the campaign and pushed us to a new level," explained Little.

"Finding 13 challengers was somewhat predictable, but having the commitments total $12 million was a very pleasant surprise," added Tyburski.

The 13 Challengers

Peter Ackerman '68
Michael J. Batza Jr '63
William H. Browne '67
Bruce W. Calvert '68
J. Christopher Clifford '67
Richard T. Cunniff '45
Harrington E. Drake '41
Richard M. Kessler '52
Wm. Brian Little '64
Jim P. Manzi '73
C. Blake McDowell Jr '40
Helen K. Persson H'84
Van P. Smith '50


As the "road show" continued, thousands of donors answered the call of the challenge. Those who made gifts of $100,000 or more were designated challenge partners, and those who gave $25,000 or more were recognized as leading matchers.

With the challenge as an incentive, many donors increased their Annual Fund gifts to become members of the Presidents’ Club. From 1994 to 1997, the organization grew 35 percent in new mem-bers, due in part to new levels of giving geared to match the economic means of younger alumni.

"The tiered levels of the Presidents’ Club were one of the great initiatives of this campaign that will bear fruit for the future," said John Golden. "Consistent giving, especially at the Presidents’ Club level, demonstrates a willingness to support the school for the rest of your life."


With participation approaching 80 percent, faculty members were another segment of the Colgate family who got behind the campaign. Jane Pinchin, provost and dean of the faculty, who oversees many of the programs that will benefit directly from the campaign, said: "Optimism and energy about this institution come from all corners. The faculty feel committed to Colgate and its future. Their financial support is part of their deep commitment." 

Class loyalty always has been strong at Colgate, but other affinity groups emerged: those with professional ties, such as the financial, legal and medical communities; Alumni of Color, who established an endowed scholarship honoring Adam Clayton Powell Jr. ’30; and individuals joined by the bond of the playing field.

Colgate celebrated 25 years of coeducation during the campaign, and alumnae played significant roles as volunteers and donors in a major fundraising effort. Jane Pinchin pointed to the leadership of trustee Lorie Slutsky ’75, who served as a vice chair of the campaign and as the first chair of the Women’s Advisory Committee. "Lorie understands philanthropy at its absolute core," said Pinchin. "She is generous with her time as well as her skills and financial support."

A mosaic designed for the future

"A big mosaic" is how Brian Little said the campaign can be described best. Neil Grabois agreed that the campaign was "a million little decisions." 

Sometimes antithesis colored the mosaic. For every glossy or polished report, there were notes scribbled on napkins. Dining in five-star restaurants contrasted with meals grabbed from a vending machine. Decisions were made not only on burnished tabletops but also over fiber optic cables — after going on-line, Brian Little’s first e-mail was to Bob Tyburski (Subject: Campaign Colgate). 


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At functions on campus and off, the Colgate spirit was in evidence throughout the campaign.

The campaign was the focus of black-tie receptions as well as golf games and a Camp Colgate retreat, dubbed "Little Golden Saranac" because both Brian Little and John Golden took the time to join the staff in planning the campaign’s final six months. Sitting in a big circle beside Saranac Lake, the group assumed a new challenge. 

In light of the certainty of achieving the $130 million mark before summer’s end, they discussed how to attain a new "whispered" goal of $150 million.

But most of all the campaign was about people, and those are the memories that will remain.


Bob Tyburski led the staff as director of Campaign Colgate throughout its five-year duration. "There were many donors and volunteers who inspired me with their gifts of time, talent and support," said Tyburski. "Especially inspirational, however, was the dedication of the staff in alumni affairs, communications and development. They understood the importance of results, but more important, the need to develop meaningful relationships. They worked as a team and properly balanced friendraising and fund-raising initiatives.

"From pre-dawn trips to the airport on snow-covered Route 20 to late nights at reunions, from all- day staff meetings to closed-door sessions to work on copy for a key brochure, from staffing volunteers, phonathons and special events to managing the vexations caused by a new computer system, the staff worked harder than most alumni ever will know."

John Golden recalls meeting scores of students at various events. A party hosted by Paul Mandabach ’70 and wife Caryn for admitted students in Los Angeles particularly stands out in Golden’s mind. "I met many attractive, articulate young men and woman who were planning to attend Colgate. The fact that they were going to travel 2,600 miles from sunny California to go to a small school in upstate New York augured well for the future."

Of the many travels he made, Brian Little remembers an event hosted by Mackintosh Brown ’53 in Denver in November 1995. "The weather was extremely bad, even by Denver standards. Despite the lousy conditions, 60 to 70 people turned out. The evening sparkled with the Colgate spirit."

He found the same spirit and energy for Colgate across the Atlantic when 30 alumni and friends attended a dinner hosted by Peter Kellner ’65 at the Ritz at Picadilly Circus in London.

Neil Grabois, who estimates he spent 35 percent of his time on the road for the campaign, jokes about the suits he no longer can wear because of the calorie-laden meals lavished upon him from coast to coast. Now that the campaign is over, he is looking forward to more time with wife Miriam and also more regular contact with students. In January he returned to the classroom to teach beginning calculus.

Likewise, Van Smith is looking to the future, and in December he and his family welcomed two additional grandchildren. Whether they follow in his footsteps to become Colgate graduates, only time will tell. If they do become members of the class of 2019, celebrating 200 years of Colgate history, they will become part of a tradition that continues to promise leadership and strength in the liberal arts, made even stronger because of foundations built by the Campaign Colgate team.
Campaign Steering Committee

Harrington E. Drake ’41, Honorary Chair
John A. Golden ’66, Chair, 1996–97
Wm. Brian Little ’64, Chair, 1994–96
Van P. Smith ’50, Chair, 1992–94
G. Kirk Raab ’59, Vice Chair
John K. Runnette ’54, Vice Chair
Lorie A. Slutsky ’75, Vice Chair
Peter Ackerman ’68
Richard C. Bain Jr. ’67, Chair, Annual Fund Executive Committee
Michael J. Batza Jr. ’63, Chair, Major Gifts Committee
E. Garrett Bewkes Jr. ’48 H’91
John R. Birk ’74, Chair, Presidents’ Club
Gloria A. Borger ’74
Denis F. Cronin ’69
John C. Cushman III ’63
Peter Blaise Desnoes ’65
William F. Doescher ’59
Frederick H. Dunlap ’50
Howard A. Ellins ’73
James L. Elrod Jr. ’76
George W. Fisk ’40, Chair, Planned Giving Committee
John E. Gillick Jr. ’67
Neil R. Grabois, President
George Hudson, Professor of English
C. Lloyd Johnson Jr. ’64
Richard M. Kessler ’52
Robert A. Kindler ’76
Wayne King II ’58
William T. Knowles ’57
Mark and Ellen Lipson, Chaircouple, Parents Campaign Committee
Howard M. Love ’52
G. Peter O’Brien ’67
Henry and Ruth Perles, Chaircouple, Society of Families
Donald P. Remey ’64, Chair, Trustee Committee on Development and External Affairs
Ronald J. Taylor ’63
Deborah S. Villa ’75, Chair, Women’s Advisory Committee
Michael J. Wolk ’60