Exceeding Expectations: Campaign Raises $142 Million

Posted: September 26, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Denise St. Ours

George Mason University closed the curtain Saturday night on its first-ever comprehensive fund-raising campaign with the announcement that $142 million had been raised—$32 million more than the dollar goal.

Campaign celebration
The Campaign for George Mason University raised $32 million more than the original goal.

The announcement climaxed a special celebratory evening attended by more than 1,000 alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends at the Center for the Arts.

“We are grateful to all of our generous donors and dedicated volunteers for making The Campaign for George Mason University so successful,” said Sid Dewberry, campaign chair and rector of the university’s Board of Visitors. “The funds raised through private support exceeded all expectations.”

The evening included a festive performance hosted by President Alan Merten and Frank Sesno, professor of public policy and communication and CNN special correspondent. The presentation featured student talent, interviews with alumni and students and the debut of two videos, “Because of the Campaign” and “Fast Forward.”

Following the performance, the celebration continued outside on the Arts Plaza with dessert and dancing.

New Gift Announcements

Propelling the campaign total beyond expectations during its closing months were the following major gifts announced during the celebration:

  • Three million dollars from Donald and Nancy de Laski to fund the expansion of the performing arts academic facilities on the Fairfax Campus. The gift brings their total campaign support of the arts at George Mason to more than $4 million.

  • One million dollars from Arthur and Elizabeth Kellar to advance George Mason’s Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities. With this gift, the Kellars’ campaign support of the institute named in memory of their daughter totals $4.2 million.

Confetti on stage
Confetti poured onto the Concert Hall stage as the celebration’s symbolic “man in black” took a final bow.
Photos by Evan Cantwell and Nicolas Tan

After several years of planning, the campaign was publicly launched in 2002. The approximately 100,000 gifts and pledges received from 45,000 donors were either unrestricted or targeted to a particular need. Nearly half of the donors were alumni.

“The strong support of our alumni and friends—as well as special outreach from our faculty, staff and students—demonstrated that those who know Mason best are enthusiastic about its future,” said Judy Jobbitt, vice president of university development and alumni affairs.

Through the campaign, 103 new endowments to support students, faculty and programs were established. Campaign funds assisted in the recruitment of Vernon Smith, now a Nobel laureate, and his team of experimental economists to George Mason. And new gifts helped to advance other research and academic initiatives, expand student and community services and fund facility improvements.

Support received during the campaign included:

  • Property and funds worth $10.7 million from Edwin and Helen Lynch and their family to develop an international retreat and conference center focused on conflict analysis and resolution.

  • Contributions exceeding $16 million from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation to support programs centered on market-based solutions to social and economic problems.

  • A trust valued at $5 million from an anonymous couple for scholarship support and athletic programs.

Beyond the Campaign

Looking beyond the campaign, private support is being sought to supplement public funding for several new building projects. Among them is an information and technology facility at the Fairfax Campus to enable the study of bioengineering and nanotechnology. At the Prince William Campus, the university is partnering with the community to establish an endowment to assist in the creation of a world-class performing arts center.

The Campaign for Mason Students has also been initiated to strengthen and create more comprehensive scholarship packages, student programs and library resources. In addition, private support will continue to be sought for program and faculty assistance.

“The campaign is serving as a catalyst for new and exciting opportunities on our campuses and beyond,” said Merten. “We are fast-forwarding into an extraordinary future.”

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