'Bold' campaign racing toward record goal

Topics: Administrative, President, Immersive Learning

September 4, 2009

One year into an effort they first thought might take up to four to complete, university leaders are marking the first anniversary of the public phase of Ball State Bold: Investing in the Future with minimal fanfare, even as the capital campaign approaches 90 percent of its $200 million goal.

The Bold campaign was unveiled during a campus gala on Sept. 5, 2008, following the completion of a leadership phase that provided volunteers and staff with an early stake of more than $122.8 million and a lot of forward momentum.

At the time, President Jo Ann M. Gora described the fundraising's objective — more than the university's previous two capital drives combined — as enhancing the university's resources in order "to recruit the finest students, provide the highest quality learning experiences, create the most vibrant campus life and the strongest community partnerships possible."

In her latest annual faculty address on Aug. 21, she shared the campaign's total receipts to date of $176,157,807.

No better proof

Of the money eventually contributed to Ball State Bold, at least $40 million is destined to support 200 new scholarships, with a like amount designated for expanding the university's hallmark undergraduate experience by creating 100 new immersive learning opportunities.

Additionally, $46.5 million is targeted to help Ball State build upon its growing national reputation by funding more endowed chairs and professorships, faculty fellows, the university's centers of excellence, emerging media initiatives and other innovative programming. Another $41.8 million will go toward building a more vibrant campus, supporting construction of the Student Recreation and Wellness Facility, expansion of the Museum of Art and the renovation of the Ball Honors House, among other improvements.

The balance of the campaign's announced goal, roughly $31.7 million, will be used to assist the university with its many traditional annual initiatives — a list that continues to grow with ongoing support from the Ball State Fund.

Coming at a time she described as "one of the most difficult economically in recent memory," Gora found special reward in the generosity of Ball State Bold's more than 60,000 benefactors since the leadership phase of campaign began in 2004. To date, 27 individuals or groups each have made gifts of $1 million or more to Ball State Bold. Another 108 have donated at least $100,000.
"I can think of no better proof that our alumni and friends support Ball State's educational model and believe that we are well-positioned for the future," she said, adding that the university's success implementing its strategic plan, focused on immersive learning, has allowed Ball State "to convincingly differentiate our distinctive education in a crowded marketplace and demonstrate its lasting value to the public."

In only two years, the university has increased by more than 1,000 the number of students participating in immersive learning, in which interdisciplinary student teams find real-world solutions for business and community partners. In 2008-09, more than 2,700 Ball State undergraduates took part in at least one of 160 immersive projects.

No letting up

Ben Hancock, vice president of university advancement, likens the situation to starting the bell lap in one of the distance events at a track meet. He, campaign chair Oz Nelson, '59, and their colleagues have run a good race and enjoy a comfortable lead, but they haven't hit the tape yet.

"We want to cross that finish line boldly," said Nelson, a veteran fundraiser for Ball State (he also chaired the Above and Beyond campaign from 1999-2002) who knows that the longer a capital campaign goes on the fewer "lead" donors there are — individuals or groups capable of giving major gifts of $1 million or more. The average size of all gifts from all sources also tends to decline over time.

Although he understands the temptation to want to celebrate the campaign's meteoric performance so far, Nelson knows now is not the time to let up. So, too, does Hancock.

"Right now, we're staying focused on the strategies we need to succeed," he said, observing that if the contest were a steeplechase, several large hurdles remain ahead. The campaign includes a number of significant challenge grants, requiring the university to achieve a certain level of funding or participation before earning designated matching funds or rewards. Among the challenge gifts still to be fulfilled are ones supporting the Museum of Art and the new Marilyn K. Glick Center for Glass.

The university's board of trustees approved the Glick Center in July. The studio and instructional facility re-establishes the university's historical connections to the glass industry. It also is central to Ball State's development of a bachelor of fine arts specialty and a master of fine arts degree in visual arts.

Construction of the center will be financed using a portion of a $5 million challenge gift from the Glick Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation. The Glick Center promises to bring further national recognition to the College of Fine Arts by showcasing excellence in traditional and modern glasswork. The facility will feature hot glass instruction, host a visiting artist program, sponsor community and children's outreach opportunities as well as a biennial competitive exhibition to attract glass artists from across the nation.

Meanwhile, Hancock has eyes trained on two other important challenge grants. The university's goal of creating 200 new and endowed scholarships would get a big boost from a matching challenge made by benefactors Leland and LaRita Boren. Also, if the Ball State Bold campaign can demonstrate a 25 percent increase in annual alumni participation by its slated completion in June 2011, an anonymous donor has pledged a $1 million gift. So far, more than 16,500 alumni have joined the rolls of givers to the university, keeping it on track toward the goal of raising annual alumni giving participation to 21,000. 

"Our approach, at this point, is that we're going to do this incrementally," Hancock said of reaching the finish line. "Realistically, we still need everyone's help to reach our goal."

Learn more about Ball State Bold at www.bsu.edu/bold.

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