POTSDAM - Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins quietly announced the start of the college's "Evolution to Excellence" strategic plan in 2003 during his inaugural address to the campus.
Eight years later, the college has been far from idle. Last week Clarkson announced the kickoff of its $225 million E2E (Evolution to Excellence) fundraising campaign, with $184 million of that amount already raised through the advance phase of the campaign.
According to Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins, the campaign will fund a variety of endeavors.
"It's across the board. It supports the facilities, and it supports the fellowships, scholarships and academic programs," he said. "It's support to build our endowment, so it's made up from a range of sources. Some of this is commitments to pledges or life gifts out of people's estates . . . It's a complete mixture of everything."
The E2E campaign, which is scheduled to conclude at the end of 2014, includes strategic priorities of academic excellence, facilities, unrestricted donations to the Clarkson Fund, financial aid and hockey/athletics. With the $184 million that has already been raised, the college is at 82 percent of its fundraising goal.
Mr. Collins noted that scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students as well as sponsored research and endowed positions for faculty members are two areas in which the university would like to see further donations, although they are not particularly underfunded.
He also said that he has a personal interest in garnering more support for the men's and women's hockey teams, which have a direct impact on the region.
"We're actually in an enviable situation, because we've been able to raise funds across the whole program, so there's no particular program that's undernourished and in need of special attention. We can really ask donors to give to areas of their passion," Mr. Collins said. "I have a personal ambition shared by many that we raise more than our targeted amount."
The college attributes the initial success of the E2E plan to the generosity of its leadership donors, people or groups that have committed gifts of $100,000 or more. At a dinner held last Friday to announce the campaign kickoff, special recognition was given to 124 individual donors and 39 organizations that have contributed to the campaign in this manner.
Mr. Collins explained that most college fundraising campaigns follow a similar path to E2E, with a "quiet phase" in which the institution determines how much can be raised, and then a public phase to solicit the remainder of the goal. According to Mr. Collins, the college's original fundraising goal was $200 million, but in February 2011 it upped the ante to $225 million in light of the strength of donations.
"We believe that challenge always presents opportunities, so my little challenge to our donors is that this is the time when every dollar counts. It can make such a difference given the difficult national economic times," Mr. Collins said.
"Whether it be for a scholarship for students to attend Clarkson or whether it be to improve our facilities, in a strange way the national and global recession provides an opportunity because of the generosity of our donors to dig deeply to support the university. I think that that concept, that now is the time to really support Clarkson, is one that really resonates with our donors and makes many of us on campus very proud."