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Wooster’s Promise campaign reaches goal early

The effort to support students at The College of Wooster raised its goal of $165 million 10 months early

Saeed Husain
Chief Copy Editor

In a video uploaded last week to The College of Wooster’s YouTube channel, Blake Moore ’80, Chair of the Wooster’s Promise campaign announced that approximately six months after the announcement of “Wooster’s Promise: A Campaign For Our Future,” the College managed to complete its goal of raising $165 million.

In late April last year, the College launched a comprehensive public fundraising campaign to support its distinctive educational mission in the liberal arts. That campaign was slated to end on June 30, 2018 and looked to engage the broader community of Wooster alumni, parents and friends.

In an interview with The Wooster Voice, Wayne Webster, Wooster’s vice president for advancement, explained how the campaign cycle took shape.

“It started on July 1, 2013, and we had what we called the leadership phase, which is where we solicited gifts from our major donors, people that we thought would resonate with some of our priorities of the campaign, particularly the [Ruth W.] Williams Hall [of Life Science] … and so we launched what we called the public phase in April [2016],” said Webster.

“Part of the reason [for] going public was really to get the mass external audience of the College to be really excited about what’s happening, it being one of the opportunities to get other folks who have not really yet contributed to the campaign or get involved in a bigger way,” said Webster.

The $165 million was earmarked for five major priorities: student financial aid, academic strength, experiential education, the life sciences and The Wooster Fund. According to Webster, those priorities were decided by the last strategic planning process that ended under President Grant Cornwell.

Late last month, the College also announced that William McAfee, a member of the Class of 1932, made a $2 million bequest in his estate to the College. This led to the McAfee Scholarship Challenge, where pledge payments by donors will be matched dollar-for-dollar after $25,000. The challenge will match new gifts up to $100,000 per donor.

When asked whether they knew the bequest was coming, Rebecca Schmidt, Director of Donor Communications and Stewardship, said, “I believe we knew there was a bequest, but we did not know the size, so this was a very pleasant surprise, and he designated it for student support and academic excellence.”

In reference to how they devised a plan to make the bequest work, Webster said, “We were thinking of how we could leverage this the best, so we worked with the [executor] of the estate and we worked with the College’s auditing company, just to make sure we were staying within their boundaries, in a way that honours what William McAfee was trying to achieve … he was trying to make this transformational gift for these purposes [student support and academic excellence] but didn’t want the recognition, so we’re giving him some recognition with the challenge.”

Despite having met the $165 million goal, Webster said that they were not going to lessen their fundraising efforts or focus most of their efforts on next year’s cycle.

“We’re pushing hard until June 30 and the McAfee Challenge helps with that,” said Webster. “I think with the help of the strategic planning process that will start this fall, we’ll have a new set of priorities to start thinking about for the next campaign.”

“Whether we go in a campaign right away or not will be a question, but we’ll certainly start thinking about it,” he said.

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