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Western University Be Extraordinary The Campaign For Western

Campaign hits halfway mark, eyes what's next

by Fred DeVries | October 18, 2012

At some point this month, Western will cross – or may already have crossed – a milepost more than 375 million steps in the making.

As of Sept. 30, Western’s campaign tallied $373,525,061. That number put the university less than $1.5 million away from the campaign’s financial midpoint of $375 million. Official numbers showing the official crossing will be released in November.

While not a destination, Western officials see more than enough reason to mark the accomplishment with a bit of fanfare.

“Halfway is a tribute to the investment by our donors. It shows they believe in the mission and vision of the institution. More importantly, not only do they believe in it, but they are going to back it with their financial resources,” said Kevin Goldthorp, External Relations vice-president. “Like running any race, it means you’re half done with only half to go. It’s important we all celebrate this.”

In 2007, the current campaign was launched with a goal of raising $500 million by 2014.

The first phase has been “quiet,” during which there has been a lot of changes. Since 2007, the university has seen a change of presidents and administrative team, as well as more than half the deans. That’s not the most stable of environments to continue fundraising. But that fact fuels excitement in fundraisers, who see a second half starting off with a lot more stability.

“We have achieved this success during a time of fundamental change at the university. With stability for the next couple of years, imagine what can happen,” Goldthorp said.

As part of that change, Western launched a refocused fundraising campaign last fall at a formal event with key volunteers and donors. There, the university revealed its new goal of raising $750 million by 2018. Hence, the university is marking halfway this month.

Interestingly enough, halfway of the current campaign represents a total more than the entire last campaign. Launched in September 2000, Campaign Western set a goal of $270 million. It would close in May 2004 with $327 million raised.

“From a metrics point of view, from a psychological point of view, we are well past that point,” Goldthorp continued. “Our community has come together to support this university at a heightened level it has never done in the past.”

Today’s rebuilt campaign features not just a new number, but a new set of goals, rooted in Western’s global aspirations. They touch on four key areas: students, faculty, research and infrastructure.

While not unique in those categories, the campaign’s story can be found in the breakdown of the numbers which signal the university’s order of priorities – $267 million for students, $218 million for faculty, $163 million for programs and $102 million for infrastructure. This represents a major swing for Western – and many Canadian universities – in terms of fundraising. No longer focused on what Goldthorp called “the extras,” the refocused campaign lasers in on what matters.

Among the unique aspects of the campaign, Goldthorp points to the first-time inclusion of student support services for everything from mental health and career services to teaching innovation and student success services. The goal is not only to help students, but significantly shift the way they have been supported in the past.

“I think we have a chance in this campaign, through the student-support goal, to make good on our claim to provide a great education for every student qualified to be here,” Goldthorp said. For example, he cited the goal of tripling, and then tripling again, the number of endowed scholarships offered by the university as one of those difference-maker goals in the campaign.

“We need to say if you can get into Western, we can support you financially,” he continued. “It’s a dreamy goal, but part of a relentless match to that kind of enduring base.”

The halfway point also makes for an interesting snapshot of the campaign, especially for many who haven’t been paying attention to this point.

Only two faculties crossed the midway point of their campaigns as of Sept. 30: Law raised 56 per cent of its $25 million goal; Engineering raised 51 per cent of its $35 million goal.

Seven other faculties were at least a third of the way to their goals – Arts & Humanities (33 per cent of $20 million), Don Wright faculty of Music (33 per cent of $10 million), Health Sciences (47 per cent of $30 million), Richard Ivey School of Business (48 per cent of $190 million), Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry (35 per cent of $145 million), Science (42 per cent of $50 million) and Social Science (43 per cent of $25 million).  Western Libraries has also reached 43 per cent of its $25 million goal.

The Western Fund, which supports the university’s highest priority needs, has nearly reached the halfway point, raising 46 per cent of its $15 million goal. The umbrella category of campuswide programs, which include areas like the McIntosh Gallery, has more than doubled its goal, raising 220 per cent of its $45 million goal.

Most numbers are tracking well. But Goldthorp still expects great things from the second half.

“The latter part of a campaign gets really interesting,” he said. “We now have ideas that have been thought through far more clearly; we benefit from the experience of testing and shaping those ideas over some time. As you start planning a campaign, you look for your big ideas. As you move through the campaign, those big ideas become clear. The latter half of a campaign is when you can start articulating some of those big ideas with far-reaching impacts for the university and start promoting them and building momentum.”

In the end, halfway is just halfway, Goldthorp admits. He knows a lot of work remains for not only his team, but for development teams across campus. But halfway is an excuse to talk a bit, even if prematurely, about the legacy of the campaign.

“When we look back on this campaign, the real test of success will be whether we have been able to support our people in a sustainable manner – faculty, chairs, students scholarships and student support services,” he said. “Yes, there is money for infrastructure, specific research, academic programs in all faculties in this campaign. Those are an essential part.

“But our ability, in a very meaningful way, to change our support for students and faculty, will be the real measure if we have been able to get our message across to donors.”

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