From These Grounds
by William G. Durden '71, President
October 3, 2011
When I arrived at Dickinson in 1999, I had several ambitions
for the college, which the leadership team and Board of Trustees quickly
embraced. They were: to elevate Dickinson’s name recognition and prestige as a
top-tier national, liberal-arts college; to recapture its history and intrinsic
strengths and make them known internally and externally; to develop a strong
institutional identity and an accompanying leadership narrative; to strengthen
the operating budget; and to increase the endowment considerably.
I knew that
achieving these ambitions would require bolstering significantly Dickinson’s
culture of philanthropy by expanding the circle of engaged and committed
alumni, parents and friends. To achieve this aim, I vowed that Dickinson would
never be out of “campaign mode,” as a more-robust fundraising program would be
critical to achieving our strategic goals and fulfilling the still
very-relevant guideposts set forth by our founder, Dr. Benjamin Rush.
October 2006, the college kicked off the $150-million First in America:
Fulfilling Our Destiny capital campaign
under the incredible leadership of George and Jennifer Ward Reynolds ’77. The
college community came together at Alumni Weekend this June to celebrate the
successful conclusion of the campaign.
the added challenge of weathering a global financial crisis and the country’s
most challenging economic times since the Great Depression, the First in
America campaign inspired many Dickinsonians to make the college a significant
beneficiary of their philanthropic investments—and we reached our goal six
consider just the last 10 years, the college has raised nearly $200
million—three times more than in any other decade in the college’s history. At
a time when many organizations faced shrinking budgets and vanishing
contributions, our community stepped forward to make the goals of this campaign
of the First in America campaign is evident across the campus. It includes the
creation of the Rector Science Complex, renovations to Biddle Field, an
additional $80 million for the endowment, 70 endowed scholarships, 16 endowed
faculty chairs and two directorships, $25 million to support academic programs
and student life, and funds to launch the Center for Sustainability Education.
incredible advances that directly benefit today’s students. We’ve succeeded in
enrolling highly qualified and diverse students, and we have made headway in
growing the endowment, which, even with the additional campaign gifts, remains
undersized compared to the endowments of our peer and aspirant institutions. As
you may know, a robust endowment ensures future financial stability for the
college—through good times and bad—permitting more resources to be directed to
our students’ education, thus amplifying the college’s distinction and
overwhelming response to the First in America campaign confirmed what our
senior leadership and the Board of Trustees suspected all along—that this
college was ready to advance again to ensure a more financially sound future.
Therefore, I am pleased to share that the trustees voted in May to extend the First
in America campaign with the goal of raising an additional $150 million during
the next six years for a total of $300 million. Serving as co-chairs of this
new phase are college trustee Amy Nauiokas ’94 and her husband, Harry Harrison.
the initial phase of the First in America campaign, the projects and
initiatives identified as priorities for the second phase—and outlined by
Carolyn Yeager, interim vice president for college advancement, on Page 5—have
been developed with our undergraduates in mind.
continue to focus on enhancing the academic experience by improving not only
the quality of a student’s experience inside the classroom, but also a critical
and complementary element—the environment outside the classroom. To solidify
our place among the most competitive liberal-arts colleges, with which we now
compete directly for students, these are essential ambitions.
we celebrate the success of the most recent campaign, we also pragmatically
acknowledge that Dickinson remains one generation behind its competitors, many
of which in the last two years have initiated campaigns of $400 million to $500
million. But we are rapidly closing the gap.
this next campaign with a new confidence and proven track record, demonstrating
that our alumni, parents and friends are determined to make this college one of
their top philanthropic interests. They recognize that with a Dickinson diploma
comes an obligation—to give back through volunteer efforts, to promote
Dickinson through personal networks and to make meaningful financial
renewed enthusiasm and the confidence that our constituents are dedicated and
committed, I anticipate the new heights we will achieve by continuing First in