College launches $1.3B capital campaign

by Katherine Michelis | 11/15/04 6:00am

Members and friends of the Dartmouth community gathered in New York City Saturday for the launch of the current capital campaign, a $1.3 billion initiative titled "Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience."

The goal of the campaign can be divided into four primary areas of concentration: unrestricted support for the student experience, residential and campus life initiatives, academic enterprise and financial aid. According to James Wright, president of the College, this campaign is a critical undertaking.

"This is a time in Dartmouth's history when we are trying to secure our position as one of the strong institutions in the country in terms of the quality of the student experience," Wright said.

$244 million will go toward ongoing annual support for the Dartmouth College Fund and for the three professional schools.

Funds expected to total $187 million will be dedicated to the construction of two new residence halls north of Baker-Berry Library and another hall along Tuck Mall. Altogether, these residence halls are expected to house 500 students. Additionally, the Alumni Gym facility will be renovated and a competitive outdoor soccer facility will be built.

$736 million will be devoted to the college-wide enhancement of academic facilities and programs, which include construction of a new building to house the mathematics department, consolidation of the Leslie Center for the Humanities and the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, and improvement of buildings in the life sciences, arts and engineering.

In order to ensure that a Dartmouth education is accessible to students of varied backgrounds, $146 million will be devoted to financial aid. Carrie Pelzel, vice president of the College's Development Office, emphasized the importance of continued financial aid.

"This will help to endow the program so that in negative economic times, our financial aid program will be even better endowed that it is now, and that will help to secure it again financial downturns in the future," Pelzel said.

Although Wright has assented that this is "by no means a slam-dunk goal," past experience has proved that the college has been able to fundraise even in turbulent financial climates.

"We have managed to deal with significant downturns in the economy," Wright said.

Thus far, efforts to raise money have been very productive. $457.5 million, more than one-third of the campaign goal, was raised in the nucleus phase. However, Wright does not view the early success in fundraising as a reason to relax future endeavors to garner funds for the campaign.

"It's an optimistic time, but it's not time to sit back and lose focus of our goals or priorities," Wright said.

Additionally, because Dartmouth's alumni population is significantly smaller than that of many other schools, widespread alumni involvement is crucial.

"One of our goals is to increase the percentage of alumni that participate in giving to the campaign," Pelzel said.

Wright emphasized that all gifts, both large and small, are an important contribution to the campaign.

"This is a comprehensive campaign in which all of the gifts that come into the college count," Wright said.

Although some people have suggested that a recent incident involving Theta Delta Chi fraternity and Delta Delta Delta sorority might hinder fundraising efforts in the future, Pelzel was confident that the impact will not be significant.

"I think that if you look at what's happened at Dartmouth over the centuries, there have been a whole range of situations, and yet support for Dartmouth has remained strong. That is not to say that people will not be concerned about various incidents about campus, but that they will not have a major impact on our ability to raise money for the campaign," Pelzel said.

Fortunately, though, alumni have proven to be very committed to the improvement of the Dartmouth experience for future generations of students.

"Dartmouth is blessed to have alumni who care deeply about investing in their successors, and Dartmouth students are fortunate to be at an institution where former students care so much about giving students the experience that they enjoyed," Pelzel said.