The Colgate Scene
Campaign for Colgate anticipates 21st-century education
On the brink of the future
By Jennifer Salopek
and Rebecca Costello
Igniting students' learning through innovative, interdisciplinary, experiential teaching [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]
"I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance
better than myself."
That same sense of ambition has permeated Colgate's identity since its founding.
"There is a sense of irrepressible initiative that is Colgate," said President Rebecca Chopp recently. "Colgate people have that inner drive, the desire, and the will to always seek higher ground. It's that Colgate passion for the climb that sets us apart and positions this university and all of our alumni for leadership in the 21st century."
Leadership development is not a new priority for Colgate; rather, it is a historical strength. The university has a strong track record of developing leaders because the institution itself models leadership. To pursue its leadership agenda moving forward, Colgate has set an ambitious course, through the strategic plan launched in 2003 and, now, "Passion for the Climb: The Campaign for Colgate," a $400 million campaign to put that plan fully into action.
The Campaign for Colgate at a glance
The groundwork for that progress can be traced back to the last campaign, "The Promise of Leadership," which concluded 10 years ago and raised more than $157 million through the engagement and support of Colgate alumni, families, and friends, funding new faculty chairs, financial aid, and study groups and making possible the construction of Little Hall, Persson Hall, and Tyler's Field. The campus was infused with new energy that has not wavered in the decade since. But the challenges of preparing students for success are ever-changing.
Since that campaign ended in 1997, higher education has become increasingly interdisciplinary, global in scope, and totally enabled by technology, with emerging fields of study not even imagined a decade ago. The demands of today's global society require graduates with an essential blend of skills in critical thinking, bold entrepreneurship, and strong ethics. And with the adoption of its new strategic plan in 2003, Colgate stepped forward to lead the way in building leaders for the 21st century.
"Our new institutional priorities address the major global issues of the day while ensuring the continually evolving strength of Colgate's living and learning community," said Chopp. "As Colgate moves forward, we build on our traditional strengths and put our shoulders into shaping programs that move toward solving the complex problems that society faces today."
The issue at hand is Colgate's need to align its means with its goals.
"The university has aspirations beyond its resources," admits Chopp. Although an uncanny ability to do more with less has resulted in an institution hallmarked by efficiency, Colgate's endowment has been overstressed for some time, and the operating budget has been stretched to its limits (see related article on page 6); a new infusion of funds is required to realize the priorities that will allow the university to lead the way into the future, she explained.
"This campaign is about making sure that Colgate's identity is ensured, and that we preserve our wonderful traditions while offering exciting new opportunities."
Conversations with alumni were critical to the development of the campaign, explained Murray Decock, vice president for institutional advancement.
"We took the strategic plan out to members of the Colgate community over the course of a year," he said by way of describing the campaign plan's genesis. "We vetted the initiatives, assessing interest and readiness and working to establish priorities. The themes that really resonate — and thus appear repeatedly throughout these initiatives — are academic excellence, community, technology, and diversity."
"The strategic plan maps out a vision for the college and the Colgate community for the next 10 years that is transformative and very ambitious," said Trustee Denis Cronin '69, who has been chair of the campaign during its silent phase. "I agreed to serve because I was confident that Colgate was ready for a very large campaign and because the essential building blocks were in place. Its goals are exciting, challenging, and very important to the near- and long-term future of our college."
Specifically, the campaign plan calls for Colgate to enhance four key areas:
its distinct combination of liberal arts teaching and university research; its commitment to providing access through the financial aid program; the university's model residential education and leadership development programs; and the growth of the endowment and annual fund.
Enhancing the personal quality of the liberal arts college experience [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]
Liberal arts and academic excellence
Building on the university's longstanding core curriculum and strong academic departments, investment in facilities, faculty development and support, and programs is needed to enhance the liberal arts experience in a way that will prepare students for all aspects of work and life in society.
The priorities to be funded by this $119 million goal include two building projects already underway (Ho Science Center, and Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology); a number of new endowed faculty chairs; programs aimed at strengthening the liberal arts curriculum and expanding the university's research agenda; and institutes of advanced study, including: the Upstate Institute, which focuses on scholarship with regional impact; the Harvey Picker Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Science and Math; the Institute for Creative and Performing Arts; and the Institute for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.
"These structures, both physical and virtual, underpin our efforts to develop new interdisciplinary areas of study, and provide a synergy to build faculty expertise and student opportunity," said Roelofs.
"This campaign brings together the vital American traditions of philanthropy and access to education," said Chopp. "Through financial aid, we can attract a more well-rounded student body and create an environment that represents the country as a whole. This is clearly one of our greatest needs."
In recent years, an increased commitment to financial aid has made it possible for Colgate to provide assistance to about 40 percent of students each year; however, these funds cannot continue to be drawn from the annual operating budget. Many of Colgate's peer institutions fund the majority of financial aid programs through endowment, guaranteeing the stability of their programs well into the future. By raising $87.5 million for financial aid endowment, the university will be able to aid more students while maintaining more budgetary flexibility.
Sustaining Colgate's challenging, supportive community, where students build skills for lives of initiative by creating their own opportunities — such as the annual blockbuster Dancefest event. [Photo by Luke Connolly '09]
"Everywhere I go, other college presidents, staff, and students know about our program and talk about it," said Chopp. Students have opportunities to develop as leaders through programs and organizations that focus on the arts and media, debate, politics, and service. An additional $30 million raised in this campaign will provide necessary support to ensure Colgate's continued growth and progress as a leader in student life.
Endowment and the annual fund
Each has its role: Endowment is a perpetual savings account. The principal is protected, and only a small amount of the earned income is used to help with current expenses. That additional income stream can mean the difference between a very good educational institution and a superior one. (See "The power of endowment" for more.)
On the other hand, the annual fund is the third-largest revenue source at Colgate. It supports all aspects of student life, both within and outside the classroom. Its unrestricted nature means that it can be used for quotidian operating needs as well as some emerging opportunities.
The right time
"Colgate has put together an infrastructure and leadership that represents a whole new level of ambition," said McClintock. "This campaign engages the extended Colgate family at an impressive level."
And the time is right, agrees Decock: "Although we provide an incredibly superior experience here on campus, Colgate has had a history of hiding its light under a bushel. The campaign provides us with an opportunity to share the message about excellence here at Colgate and the relevance of a quality education to preparing the citizens of the twenty-first century."
Passion for the Climb
The theme is also an expression of the deep feeling alumni and friends have for Colgate and about ensuring the university's future success.
"As I have traveled the country over the past five years, it has pleased me greatly to be reminded how fondly Colgate alumni remember their faculty and friends here," said Chopp. "The many projects and initiatives offer our alumni and friends wonderful opportunities for investment and partnership in this university, and we hope that the campaign brings a time when the Colgate community can take enormous pride in this institution."
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