Champagne wishes and billion dollar dreams
With ice sculptures and big-screen TVs, Goldstein Auditorium looked more like a nightclub than a lecture hall Friday night when Chancellor Nancy Cantor and the co-chairs for The Campaign for Syracuse University announced the official kickoff and the progress made so far.
As of Friday, $509,283,799 has been raised by individual private donors and foundations during the first two years of the campaign. The university had been claiming that about 30-40 percent of the campaign’s $1 billion goal was met, effectively lowering expectations in the weeks leading up to the announcement.
This is the largest fundraising campaign in SU’s history and is a step toward increasing the university’s endowment to that of elite schools across the country.
‘We are going to follow with more,’ Cantor said of the more than $500 million raised thus far. ‘Unprecedented is not an overstatement.’
Co-chair Howie Phanstiel announced the progress of the campaign to the roughly 1,500 people in attendance. The amount raised at this point already exceeds any of the university’s previous campaigns.
Faculty, students and alumni gathered to celebrate the kickoff of the campaign with shrimp cocktails, caviar and champagne. Orange Appeal, the men’s a cappella group, and the Korean drum corps performed during the ceremony.
The campaign, a $1 billion program that would provide funding for faculty, students, buildings, programs and annual support, was created in July 2005. The campaign is expected to continue through 2012.
‘We could not be more pleased, excited and competent for the future. We are better positioned to transform lives and the world in positive ways,’ said Melanie Gray, alumna and co-chair of the campaign.
The money will be divided into five categories, but some students are skeptical that the areas which deserve the most money will actually receive it.
‘One billion dollars is a lot of money, and I think more of it should be going to the students,’ said freshman Hannah Messinger. ‘Without us, there would be no university, so more money should be going to what we need and what would attract more students.’
The campaign estimates that $200 million will benefit students through financial aid and scholarships.
Senior Lauren Smith agreed. She said that with such a large sum of money, the university could do great things, but it is too concerned with what would make them look the best rather than what would be best for the students.
Also announced at the ceremony was the S.I. Newhouse Foundation’s $10 million matching challenge to the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications for the Newhouse Dean’s Leadership fund.
If the school raises $5 million for the fund, the S.I. Newhouse Foundation will match that amount with $10 million, in a two-to-one ratio. This would result in $15 million for discretionary fund of the successor to outgoing Newhouse Dean David Rubin.
Rubin announced last spring that he will step down at the end of the current school year.
‘The high standard of excellence of the graduates of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications has made an immense contribution to the field of public communications,’ said Donald Newhouse, president of Advance Publications, in a news release. ‘We are happy to continue our support of the outstanding work of the Newhouse School.’
In addition to the $15 million that the Newhouse fund provided for the construction of Newhouse III, the total donation to the campaign from the Newhouse family is $30 million.
‘With this kind of support, SU will stay in a place of compelling vision and powerful stories,’ said Deryck Palmer, co-chair of the campaign.
The administration expects that the rest of the $1 billion will come from donations from alumni and friends of the university. Up to this point, corporations have been the primary donors.
‘I would definitely donate to the campaign if I had the money because my experience at SU was such a positive and wonderful one,’ said alumna Lauren Rich, who graduated in 2004 and now works for a production company in New York. ‘Alumni before me contributed to my experience, so I would love to give someone else that same opportunity.’
Palmer said at the ceremony that this is a prime time for alumni to participate in the campaign because there is a way for everyone to give back.
‘Some will give time, some will give their money, but it’s important that we all participate in this effort,’ Palmer said.
‘When I graduate, I am going to look back at SU and remember everything it has done for me,’ said freshman Messinger. ‘When I look back, I am going to want to do anything to help SU, so it can have the same impact of someone else. If they think that money would be the best way to help, I would be happy to do it.’
Friday also marked the launch of campaign.syr.edu, the online component of the campaign. The Web site will track the progress of the campaign, provide updates about new programs initiated through the campaign, while featuring profiles of people involved and a timeline of SU’s history. It will also suggest ways for the public to get involved through donations or volunteer work.
On the Web site, five out of the nine links are directions on how to donate money, as the main objective of the campaign – at its current stage – is to attract people to donate to the cause.
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