University Fundraising Campaign Surpasses Goal, Continues

Posted: February 19, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Denise St. Ours

The Campaign for George Mason University has moved beyond its minimum goal to raise $110 million in private support, reaching this benchmark 17 months ahead of schedule. Campaign Chair Sidney Dewberry made the announcement yesterday at a luncheon preceding the Board of Visitors meeting.

A $1 million commitment from Donald and Nancy de Laski has helped push the campaign to $111 million. Begun in July 1998, George Mason’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign continues through June 2005.

“Surpassing the $110 million mark is a thrilling and historic achievement for the university, but the campaign continues because our work is far from done,” says Dewberry, chairman of Dewberry, an architectural and engineering firm. “We are pushing to exceed this initial target by a substantial margin between now and June 2005 to help the university strengthen student programs, expand research capability, enhance the arts, and fund other emerging opportunities.” Dewberry serves as vice rector of the Board of Visitors and as a trustee of the George Mason University Foundation.

Board of Visitors Rector Edwin Meese III, who is the Ronald Reagan Fellow in Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation, characterizes the campaign’s ongoing success as “critical.” He adds, “Private support is the difference between a good university and a great university.”

The de Laski commitment will provide seed money for the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) to enhance its facilities within the Departments of Dance and Music. Don de Laski, retired chairman of Deltek Systems Inc., is a university foundation trustee. Nancy de Laski is a member of the CVPA advisory board.

“At a public university, private support has become an absolute necessity, and I am grateful to each of our donors for enabling us to sustain growth and advance our educational mission,” says President Alan Merten. “Our alumni, parents, friends, faculty, and staff–more than 35,000 donors thus far–are propelling this campaign forward, exceeding all expectations.”

Among its achievements, The Campaign for George Mason University has funded 68 scholarship endowments, 10 faculty position endowments, and 5 term professorships. Faculty members whose work is funded in part with campaign contributions include Nobel laureate Vernon Smith, regional economic analyst Stephen Fuller, former CNN journalist Frank Sesno, cognitive neuroscientist Layne Kalbfleisch, and conflict resolution expert Marc Gopin.

Campaign gifts to the university are also helping to fund such major initiatives as the Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities, the state-of-the-art Verizon Auditorium, the Dr. Lawrence Cranberg Research Endowment for Science and the Law, the Toups Clinical Simulation Laboratories at the College of Nursing and Health Science, the expansion of the Center for History and New Media, and the planned international retreat and conference center on property donated by the Lynch family at Mason Neck.

Paul Kyle, university foundation chair and president of King Wholesale Inc., observes that alumni support–a key factor in measuring the success of a university–is increasing steadily at George Mason. Much of that increase results from the launch of a special alumni campaign initiative to engage and encourage support among the university’s 90,000 graduates.

According to Merten, the campaign is establishing a “tradition of giving” at George Mason that older, more established schools take for granted. “The campaign is helping to build a great university for a great region–and touching the lives of many, both on and off campus,” he adds.

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