College hopes to ’climb far’ with fundraising campaign

The campus was inundated this past weekend with the alumni, parents and friends of the College who will be most active in the leadership of “The Williams Campaign,” a comprehensive campaign intended to raise $400 million over the next five years.

The Campaign officially began at 11 a.m. on Saturday, in a series of speeches in Chapin Hall featuring Steve Rogers ’79, chair of the Board of Trustees Bob Lipp ’60 and President Schapiro.

After a short film highlighting many of the College’s strengths, Rogers began by discussing all that the College had done for him, and why he thought it important to give back. He described how, despite growing up in a family of extremely limited means, the College offered him a financial aid package that made it possible for him to attend.

As a student, he played football — an experience, he said, that was enormously important to his personal development. He also met his wife while at school, and was married the day before their graduation. Their daughter, Akilah ’04, is now a senior at Williams.

In short, Rogers said, Williams has “always taken care of me and my family. To whom much is given, much is required.”

Lipp discussed financial issues specific to the Williams campaign. Describing it as “by far the most ambitious capital campaign that Williams has undertaken in its history,” he noted that the prior capital campaign, held 10 years ago, had raised only $173.6 million. In the “quiet,” unofficial stages of the Williams campaign, the College raised $160.1 million.

There have been 11 gifts of $2.5 million or more, totaling $99.1 million, and an additional $9.5 million has been raised through seven gifts of approximately $1 million each, Schapiro said in an e-mail.

“The Campaign has very ambitious goals, but it is off to a terrific start,” Lipp said.

Schapiro then spoke, briefly citing the College’s “perfect size and location,” he focused on the College’s “respect for history and willingness to change.”

On that theme, Schapiro discussed the curricular reforms of 2001, which included an expansion of the tutorial program, a general reduction of class sizes and a renewed commitment to affordability. While noting that these initiatives do not come cheaply, Schapiro said, “This is Williams, and we get things done.

“By climbing far, we will set a new standard for liberal arts colleges and research universities.”

The program was concluded by a performance of several school songs by the Concert Choir.

Earlier in the day, at a talk titled “Inside Williams Today. . .and Tomorrow,” Dean Nancy Roseman, Cappy Hill, provost, and Keith Finan, associate provost, discussed strategic planning at Williams. In general, they explained, the College assumes a 10 percent annual growth on their investment in any given year: nine percent comes from investment, with the additional one percent comes from alumni and parent giving. Half of that 10 percent is spent every year, and the five percent is reinvested. Since ideally the return on the investment grows by five percent every year, the College is able to increase its spending every year.

Although the endowment grew by five percent last year, it lost value in fiscal years 2000 and 2001. While this has led some alumni to question whether nine percent was really an attainable growth target, Finan stressed that this was meant as a long-term goal. He indicated that the College was able to earn nine percent annually on its endowment between 1955 and today.

The endowment wasn’t the only source of difficulty last year – fundraising was also an issue. “It was very tough last year,” Schapiro said. “I thought we probably wouldn’t kick it [the campaign] off until the spring.” But Schapiro has a long period of fundraising ahead of him. “We have to raise a million a week for five years,” he said, which would put the final amount raised by the campaign at approximately $420 million. However, Schapiro said, Williams is a bit different than other schools because it has not been in a perpetual campaign. “Most schools are perpetual campaigns now. It’s nice we haven’t done that,” he said.

The major strategic objectives that the campaign will fund include the completion of three building projects, sustaining the curricular reevaluation and development begun in 2001, securing the recent expansion of the faculty in perpetuity, sustaining the College’s commitment to an entirely need-blind admissions process and implementing residential life proposals to improve the quality of housing on campus. Of the $201.5 million earmarked to curricular innovation, approximately $75 million will be spent on the creation of a state-of-the art library and faculty office complex that will replace the existing facilities in Sawyer Library and Stetson Hall. Forty million dollars will be spent on the ongoing construction of the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, and the remaining $86.5 million will be devoted to securing the expansion of the College’s signature tutorial program and enlarging the faculty.

Approximately $142.5 million of the $400 million target will be spent on student life initiatives, including meeting need-based scholarship expenditures, implementing residential life initiatives and constructing a $36 million student center in place of the current Baxter Hall. “There are donors lined up, we’ve raised a lot of money for the student center,” Schapiro said. The campaign’s remaining $56 million will be raised through the Alumni Fund, which will be used as a discretionary fund for the College’s operating expenses over the next several years.

Although plans have not been finalized for Sawyer-Stetson or Baxter, Schapiro said the College is actually “ahead of the game” on the building projects, from a campaign perspective because the College actually knows exactly what it wants to build and has start dates for the projects. In terms of donations, said President Schapiro, “There’s no ‘for what?’ here.”

One component of curricular innovation that is not noted included in the campaign calculus is Williams in New York, which would establish a College-run study away program in the city. “I want to figure out this year exactly what the numbers are and exactly the program,” Schapiro said. “At the end of this academic year, if we find out it’s a non-starter,” the President will present his findings to the faculty.

Other weekend activities for the campaign included the opportunity to attend several classes, a tour of the Theater and Dance Complex, a bird watching tour and night dancing on Sawyer Lawn.

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