’The Williams Campaign’ to be launched Saturday

On Saturday, the College will announce “The Williams Campaign,” a comprehensive five-year fundraising initiative to raise money for the College’s strategic plan .

According to Stephen Birrell, vice president for Alumni Relations and Development, this campaign will include all of the College’s fundraising activities over the next five years and will seek to increase the College’s operating budget through annual giving.

The main purpose of this initiative is to draw financial support for the College’s strategic plan. This plan, developed during the early stages of President Schapiro’s tenure, seeks to expand the faculty and to implement curricular changes in residential life and other changes adopted by the faculty in 2001. Also, the plan addresses the need for further funds for financial aid and improvements in the College facilities.

In the near future, the administration hopes to expand its ability to sweeten its financial aid packages by redistributing grants, loans and work-study obligations. Another goal is the completion of three building projects, including the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, a new student center and the expansion and renovation of Stetson Hall and Sawyer Library.

Birrell does not find the present climate of economic downturn detrimental to this initiative, because he believes that throughout the five-year campaign the U.S. economy will see, as he calls it, other “ups and downs.”

“Our basic case for support is that the world of the 21st century is a pretty complicated place and that Williams graduates will have an impact on [a] world that is disproportionate to their numbers,” Birrell said. “[Preparing] our graduates for the demands of leadership requires the best education we can possibly provide and the elements of the strategic plan will strengthen all [of] we most value in a Williams education.”

Jim Kolesar, news director for the College, says that this initiative will make Williams better and stronger than ever.

The College expects to raise approximately $400 million. It has already raised $160 million, 40 percent of the final target, during the preliminary stages also referred to as the “nucleus phase” of the campaign’s conception.

This fundraising initiative is the largest one in the College’s history. In its last campaign in 1993, “The Third Century Campaign,” the College raised $173.6 million, the largest of any private liberal arts college at that time. Presently, several top tier liberal arts colleges are or were in the mist of a capital campaign. Smith College is idn the process of raising about $425 million, while Wellesley is seeking to raise over $400 million. Amherst just finished its $270 million campaign.

“We expect [this initiative] to be successful. That is, we expect to reach our goal of $400 million for the campaign’s central purposes,” said Birrell. “[I]t will take a great deal of. . .hard work by many people to achieve success.”

Alumni of the College will play an important role as donors and solitictors in the success of this initiative. A large majority of the alumni will make donations to the College through the Alumni Fund, while a selected few alumni, parents and friends of the College will be asked by the College to make donations to support one of the three building projects.

Recently, U.S. News and World Report ranked Williams the number one liberal arts college in the nation. In response to a question on whether alumni are more likely to give money to the College because of this, Birrell said, “It’s certainly not a bad thing, but it will have no [significant] impact on our fundraising.”

As Vice President of Alumni Relations and Development, Birrell works directly with President Schapiro, the Trustees of the College, senior staff, alumni leaders and other members of his office in managing the campaign.

On Friday, a reception, dinner and talk by Professor Lauren Heatherington of the psychology department entitled “Envisioning Williams’ Future” will be held in Lasell. On Sataurady morning between 8-10:30 a.m. in Mission, senior staff will overview the College’s strategic plan in a talk called “Inside Williams today…and tomorrow.”

Following the talk, the “The Williams Campaign” officially begins with a vide in Chapin Hall at11 a.m., followed by a series of speakers, which include Steven S. Rogers ’79, Trustee, President Schapiro and Robert Lipp ’60, chair of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees and campaign co-chair.              

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