Transforming Lives campaign exceeds goal

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Nunzia Martino

 

Illinois Wesleyan University’s Transforming Lives fundraising campaign reached $141 million, surpassing its $125 million goal, on Monday, Oct. 27.

The campaign, which was announced in May 2009, sought to increase the size of the university’s endowment—the number of student scholarships and support for the Wesleyan Fund. Additionally, the campaign helped to fund significant additions and improvements to campus buildings and facilities.

“In 2006, The Board of Trustees approved a direction of where we were going and we knew we were going to need additional resources to achieve that plan,” said President Richard F. Wilson. “It unfolded naturally and we had to decide what our goals were and what our alumni and friends might be interested in. In 2008, we began to formulate the plan more specifically.”

Wilson believes that student involvement is the reason behind the campaign’s success.

“Every time we bring an alumnus on campus to meet the students, they’re always impressed. Students had an impact on our success that they might not even know about just by being themselves and interacting with the alumni,” said Wilson.

According to Wilson, the campaign helped to raise the number of alumni who support the university and, by the end of the campaign, 5,000 alumni were giving gifts to the University. This increased the number of alumni participation by 25 percent.

“The more alumni that support us, the better position we are going to be in. Whether that gift is 10 dollars or 1,000 dollars, it helps the university,” said Wilson.

The Campaign also succeeded in creating endowed chairs and professorships for the faculty, and, according to Wilson, within the last five years, IWU has secured 31 endowed professorships. Because of these endowments, professors will receive more funds, providing their students with a higher amount of opportunities like guest speakers, conferences and research assistance.

“An endowment brings new experiences for professors and for students. On the professor’s side, it gives me access to legal materials, research materials and employment law and intellectual property which are my areas,” said professor of business administration Robert A. Kearny.

An important component to the Transforming Lives Campaign is its attention to scholarships, particularly the Promise Scholarships, which provide support for students with significant financial need.

“The Promise Scholarships provide funding in order to fill the gap. They give prospective students a pathway for becoming a Titan,” said vice president for advancement Martin Smith.

Because the Transforming Lives Campaign assisted prospective students with financial means, this year’s entering class consisted of individuals from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

“I always hate it when a prospective student says that Wesleyan is the school they want to go to but they can’t afford it. We try to eliminate the financial element so that students pick the school that they think they will do well in,” said Wilson.

In all, the campaign achieved more than its initial goals, giving the university a higher amount of support, resources and student achievement.

“I’d like to thank our advancement staff, led by Marty Smith, the campaign steering committee and the many volunteers across the country who made this campaign such a huge success,” said Wilson.

The Transforming Lives Campaign is the largest and most successful campaign in the history of the university.