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The Dartmouth
May 18, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Record-breaking Call to Lead Campaign ends after eight years

The Call to Lead campaign had the highest level of alumni engagement and female engagement for any higher education campaign over $3 billion.

Baker tower

On June 30, the Call to Lead campaign concluded, raising nearly $3.8 billion, including an expected $511 million in bequests. The campaign broke multiple records, leading in alumni engagement for any higher education campaign over $3 billion, surpassing the fundraising goal by $800 million and receiving the largest gift in the history of the College. 

In April 2018, College President emeritus Phil Hanlon announced the Call to Lead campaign with a goal of raising $3 billion. The campaign had already accumulated $1.4 billion from the “quiet phase” of fundraising that began in 2014 before the campaign was officially announced. According to the campaign’s vision statement, the primary goal of the campaign was to make Dartmouth “the preeminent institution for the teacher-scholar.” 

“It has benefited every area of campus — from the arts to athletics, from engineering to medicine, from Tuck to Moosilauke, from students to faculty,” Provost David Kotz ’86 wrote in an email statement to The Dartmouth. “[The campaign] reflects the incredibly generous support of so many alumni and friends of Dartmouth — including 60% of undergraduate alumni.”

In the eight years since fundraising began in 2014, 28,000 alumni made their first donation to the College. According to the campaign website, this fundraising effort compared to the last effort— the 2002 Campaign for the Dartmouth Experience — marked an 825% increase in international donations from 105 different countries.

President of the Board of Trustees Elizabeth Lempres ’83 Th’84 said the Call to Lead campaign has proved that alumni engagement is a critical component to Dartmouth’s fundraising efforts. 

“It’s overwhelming when you think about the number of people who came together to make the campaign possible,” Lempres said. “The number of people who participated in events, who contributed to the campaign, the staff that worked for so many years and the volunteers — we had several hundred people volunteering their time in very significant ways over a number of years.”

Among the largest contributions to the campaign was the women’s alumnae base. Catherine Briggs ’88, co-founder of the Centennial Circle —  a group of 325 alumna who each made a minimum donation of $100,000 to the Call to Lead campaign — said the circle is a grassroots group whose distinction as a group of alumnae donors  no other college or university has been able to replicate.   

“I think that a really important distinction of the Centennial Circle is that the women who join want to be part of something that’s bigger than themselves,” Briggs said. 

Aside from alumnae engagement, another historical moment of the campaign involved the largest scholarship gift in the history of Dartmouth. According to the Call to Lead campaign website, following an anonymous $40 million donation the College became one of six colleges and universities in the nation to offer need-blind admissions to international applicants. The website wrote that the campaign also removed federal and institutional loans from all of its financial aid packages. This change in policy will decrease debt for middle-income families by $22,000 over four years.

David McKenna ’89, Board of Trustees member and co-chair of the Presidential Commission on Financial Aid, said he estimates the “true” cost of the Dartmouth experience is $140,000. Mckenna said that most Dartmouth alumni have benefited from financial aid, whether or not they were officially on aid. 

“Even if you paid in full — tuition, room and board — you paid a percentage of the cost of the experience, so everybody was aided on that basis,” Mckenna said. 

In December 2022, Dartmouth pledged $100 million raised by the Call to Lead campaign towards an initiative called STEM-X, which hopes to increase the representation of historically underrepresented groups in STEM fields. 

Kotz wrote that STEM-X initiatives have taken many different approaches. Formal efforts include the Women in Science Project, which aims to address the underrepresentation of women in science through early research opportunities, and the E.E. Just Program, which aims to increase the number of minorities pursuing a STEM degree. More informal efforts include the activities of individual departments and faculty members, Kotz wrote. 

“The set of investments that comprise this new Dartmouth STEM Initiative will provide a firmer foundation for some of these existing programs, provide leadership to coordinate existing programs and consider whether and how to create new programs to deepen our impact,” Kotz wrote. 

According to the Call to Lead website, the College also pledged to use the fundraising from the campaign to increase funding for the First-Year Summer Enrichment Program — a program that supports first-generation college students with their transition to the College. 

Funds from the campaign will also support the construction of more than 500,000 square feet of academic, athletic and social spaces across campus. Dartmouth’s athletic teams and facilities will see the creation of 21 endowed athletic leadership positions. According to the Call to Lead website, the fundraising goal for Dartmouth Athletics was $90 million, however donations for athletics have now totaled $178 million. The Hopkins Center for the Arts is undergoing a $89 million renovation that will result in 70,000 square feet of new, renovated performance spaces.

The campaign will not only benefit undergraduates at the College, but also graduates at the Thayer School of Engineering, the Geisel School of Medicine, the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies and the Tuck School of Business. Notably, Tuck reached 81% of alumni participation in the campaign.

Briggs said that the College has thanked alumni for their support in various ways, including the rededication of Dartmouth Hall to the women of the Dartmouth community and the Give a Rouse Tour in cities around the world, which served as both a fundraiser and celebration of Hanlon’s tenure. 

Correction Appended (July 26, 10:39 a.m.): A previous version of this article made three factual errors in the leading paragraph. The article formerly stated that the campaign raised $3.8 billion and an expected $503 million in bequests. However, the campaign raised $3.8 billion in total, which includes $511 million in expected bequests. 

A previous version of this article also inaccurately stated that the campaign had the highest level of alumni and female engagement for any higher education campaign in history. The campaign had the highest level of alumni and female engagement for any higher education campaign over $3 billion. 

Lastly, a previous version of this article stated that the Call to Lead campaign received the largest anonymous gift in the history of the College. The gift was not made anonymously, and the article has been updated for clarity. 

We sincerely apologize for any confusion and regret this oversight.