The Emory Campaign

Happy New Era

By Susan M. Carini

Seven who made a difference:

Top twenty-five campaign funds listed by number of donors

The Emory Campaign Gift Range

As the clock ticked away on December 31, 1995, Emory entered into the spirit of the season, ushering out the old and welcoming the new. On that day the University successfully closed its five-year, $400 million capital campaign--having reached a total of $420 million--and began to articulate its priorities for the future.

In the coming months, a more detailed set of figures will paint the numeric picture of this impressive campaign. There is no doubt, however, even before the arrival of the final numbers, that this campaign--Emory's second major one--is a felt success. Both in the Atlanta community and nationally, its momentum has been palpable for some time.

The previous campaign began in 1979 with the record gift of $105 million from the Emily and Ernest Woodruff Fund. In the course of the next five years, the University raised a corresponding $115 million. Heads turned in the educational community, and an era of responsible stewardship began at Emory.

The Robert W. and George W. Woodruff scholarships and fellowships were created at this time, enabling Emory to attract a wider range of outstanding students, both undergraduate and graduate. In addition, a new student center--the R. Howard Dobbs University Center--and Turman Residential Center were built, along with the George W. Woodruff Physical Education Center and the George and Irene Woodruff Residential Center. The University's commitment to financial aid was bolstered as well.

In the campaign just completed, much of the funding has gone for research and for construction of new academic space--for example, the $5.8 million gift of Emory College alumnus Ely Callaway to renovate the Physics Building on the Quadrangle. Of course, the graceful facades and cutting-edge equipment have stories behind them--of generous donors whose philanthropic interests coincided with the direction of Emory's growth. M. B. Seretean, for instance, wed his own interest in wellness to the University's growing awareness of the benefits of healthy lifestyles for its faculty, staff, and students. The $6.5 million M. B. Seretean Center for Health Promotion houses a comprehensive and integrated set of services promoting and enhancing health and well-being for Emory University and its community.

In the best of all possible worlds, this campaign has seen previous donors support Emory in new initiatives, while new donors have expanded the circle of supporters. The Woodruff Foundation--so prominent a presence in the last campaign--was again an important player. To have solidified that friendship over the course of sixteen years has been a source of great pride to the University. Balancing out the equation, Emory has added contributors of small- and modest-sized gifts to its rolls with fully as much joy as it has welcomed its most generous benefactors.

The University has profited as well from the energy and leadership of many volunteers. To jump-start the Campaign, the University was fortunate to have the wisdom of former chair of the Board of Trustees Robert Strickland and Campaign Honorary Chair O. Wayne Rollins, both of whom passed away during the course of the Campaign. Meritorious Service medals need to be cast for Brad Currey (chair of the Campaign until becoming chair of the Board of Trustees in fall 1994) and John McIntyre (vice chair, then chair of the Campaign). And this campaign has benefited from the influence of two strong presidents--James T. Laney and then William M. Chace, who arrived at Emory in August 1994. In the year-long interim that occurred in 1993, the University was led ably by Provost Billy Frye.

An innovation this time around was the challenge grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation, which brought a number of new stakeholders to the University. The terms of the Emory/Coca-Cola Challenge were defined as follows: if Emory's alumni, trustees, faculty, staff, parents, and other friends would increase their annual gifts over a five-year period, the foundation would match them up to $2 million. For the five years of the Challenge, Emory secured 15,770 new donors, and its total of new and increased unrestricted gifts exceeded $3.8 million. During this same period, 49.4 percent of the University's alumni made contributions.

Beyond the dollars and cents, beyond the new buildings, scholarships, and professorships, a campaign is a timeline for measuring change at an institution. Indeed, two heartening changes have occurred in giving patterns since the last campaign. First, the source of Emory's support has become more diverse. Second, alumni giving--an important yardstick at any university--has doubled, rising from 5.3 percent to 10.6 percent annually. Another promising increase was noted in gifts from health organizations, whose percentage grew from 2.1 to 12.6 as a percentage of total giving.

When allocation decisions are at an end, the philosophizing begins: what kind of university has Emory become as a result of this campaign? What is its vision for the future? Jack Gilbert, associate vice president for Leadership Development and Gift Planning, is a veteran of both campaigns. During the last campaign, in his estimation, Emory made the leap from a regional to a national university. This latest campaign has reinforced Emory's growing international reputation.

There is a lesson to be learned for Emory in current national trends: the country's philanthropic landscape has taken on new contours, and the figures navigating this landscape have changed in interesting ways. Likewise, the circle of donors at Emory is becoming more inclusive. To its national prominence as an academic institution, Emory is adding national leadership, thus taking active steps to embrace the best of its constituents both nationally and around the world. More actively than ever, the University wants to watch alumni achieve their success and be part of that success. In the words of Gilbert, "We need to do more than satisfy the market; we need to imagine the future."

Part of auld lang syne is to review vows previously made. On the front of the Campaign case statement, published in 1990, was this promise: "By the year 2000, Emory should be recognized as one of the nation's strongest and most distinctive universities." By anyone's calendar, Emory is ahead of the game.

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