Amherst Launches Funding Campaign for $625 Million
Issue   |   Tue, 04/10/2018 - 22:41
Photo courtesy of Maria Stenzel
William Ford ’83 reveals the new nameplate for Ford Hall, formerly known as Greenway A. The dedication of the building kicked off a weekend celebrating the launch of the college’s fundraising campaign.

The college launched “Promise: The Campaign for Amherst’s Third Century” on Friday, April 6 with a weekend of events, including the dedication of Ford Hall. The campaign aims to secure Amherst’s future as it moves into its third century starting in 2021.

The campaign plans to raise $625 million over the next five years, according to Suzanne Newby-Estes, the executive director of advancement and campaign operations. The college has already raised around half of the money through “quiet” fundraising leading up to the campaign launch.

This includes a $100 million donation by an anonymous alum that will be used to match “gifts at very significant levels that are matching campaign priorities,” Newby-Estes said.

Newby-Estes outlined the campaign’s six main goals, which include expanding a variety of resources on campus and academic departments, especially in STEM fields.

“This campaign specifically is looking to expand the faculty by a number of positions and that is to meet the need in the STEM fields,” she said. “We are just expanding the faculty and it’s important to recognize that the needs of the institution change over time so it’s not only just for STEM, it’s just what the institution needs right now. One hundred years from now it could be completely different.”

Some of the other goals include hiring more staff in the Center for Writing and Public Speaking, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Counseling Center. The campaign also hopes to expand the Loeb Center’s “Careers In … ” program, which provides students advising and shadowing opportunities in specific fields like non-profit, government and communications, as well as increase funding available for internships.

Part of the campaign will also support the Annual Fund and aim to contribute $80 million to it over the duration of the campaign.

The Annual Fund is the way that most alumni donate, with around 12,000 alumni donating every year, according to Newby-Estes. The money raised through this fund is unrestricted and helps to support the campaign’s priorities.

The campaign will also contribute to paying for the construction of the New Science Center as well as the Greenway Dorms, one of which was renamed this weekend.

This weekend’s launch began with the renaming of Greenway A as Ford Hall. The building is named after William Ford ’83 P’13, who is the CEO of a growth equity firm called General Atlantic. President Biddy Martin, Board of Trustees Chair Cullen Murphy ’74, Association of Amherst Students President Aditi Krishnamurthy ’18 and Ford all spoke at the event.

Following the speeches, Ford pulled a rope to reveal the new “Ford Hall” sign on the side of the building. Afterwards, a cake in the shape of Ford Hall and baked by Carl Charrette, the college’s pastry cook, was served to those in attendance.

Saturday began with a lunch in Valentine Dining Hall for students, alumni, faculty and staff. In the afternoon, Murphy interviewed Martin in Johnson Chapel where they discussed the history and future of the college. Following that, students and faculty members gave a variety of presentations and panels on research, extracurriculars and academic life at Amherst.

In the evening, around 325 people gathered for dinner in Coolidge Cage, surrounded by screens with pictures of people from the Amherst community and bathed in purple light. Several student groups performed, including the Choral Society, Dance And Step at Amherst College (DASAC) and the Zumbyes.

Although the campaign launched this weekend, planning for it began several years ago, according to Newby-Estes.

“When you’re planning a campaign, you start with a strategic plan … which we did about three years ago now,” she said. “Out of the strategic plan, we start to develop specific campaign fundraising priorities … Developing a campaign goal is always a mix of what the priorities of the institution are and what we think we can realistically raise in a finite period of time. That’s how we came to the $625 million goal.”