West Virginia University has a lofty goal for the next few years – raise $750 million.
President Jim Clements joined WVU Foundation representatives today (June 2) in announcing the official kickoff of a comprehensive campaign to raise private dollars for the state's flagship university and its regional campuses through December 2015.
"A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia's University" will ensure WVU's continued prominence in delivering high-quality education and building pathways for innovation, research and opportunities between the state, nation and world,” Clements told a group of several hundred invited guests at a campaign kickoff luncheon at the Morgantown Event Center.
"Now, more than ever, in our current economic climate, donor generosity is helping us fulfill our land-grant mission to West Virginia," he said.
"A State of Minds" is the largest private fundraising campaign in WVU's history. The $750 million goal is three times larger than the previous "Building Greatness" campaign from 1998-2003.
To date, $538 million has been raised during the silent phase of the campaign that began July 2007.
Fundraising will focus on six University-wide campaign priority areas that align with the University's 2020 Strategic Plan for the Future:
- Enhance the undergraduate student experience and global education
- Advance the research initiative of the University
- Enable WVU to improve West Virginia’s health, economy and quality of life
- Foster faculty excellence
- Enhance WVU through professional and graduate education
- Support healthcare through research, education and patient care
"Ten years ago, our donors showed their faith in WVU through the Foundation’s 'Building Greatness' campaign," Clements said. "Today, thanks in large part to that generosity, our University is having a more positive impact on our students, our state, and our world than ever before.
"To continue our momentum, we are once again calling on everyone who cares about WVU to support our life-changing work. The goal for this campaign is ambitious, but reachable, and I am confident that the Mountaineer family will once again push us beyond the finish line."
Clements helped illustrate the impact of University donors by sharing the stories of two successful graduates who've benefited from the Foundation's work.
Jason Bailey, a self-described "small-town boy" from Ripley, cemented his status as a Mountaineer by joining the Pride of West Virginia Mountaineer Marching Band. Bailey also benefited as a Foundation Scholar recipient – WVU’s most prestigious scholarship for the state’s brightest students; as an intern with the West Virginia Legislature and president of the Student Government Association. He graduated in May with bachelor's degrees in international studies and political science.
"Jason's story – like so many others – is an example of what happens when gifts come together with dreams at WVU," Clements said.
Clements also discussed the story of Sarah Lovell Soliman, a Martinsburg native who now works in defense intelligence. Also a beneficiary of WVU scholarships, Soliman ended up creating a $25,000 endowment in honor of her mentor, engineering professor Wils Cooley, so others would have the same opportunities at WVU as she did. Soliman established this endowment before age 30.
Clements added, "You can help us write a new chapter in a story that never ends — the WVU story — a story that takes people beyond what they dreamed was possible and instills in them a sense of pride and connection to this University like no other."
Chairman of Putnam Investments and 1974 alumnus Robert Reynolds and Cadrillion Capital President Verl Purdy, a 1964 WVU graduate, are the national campaign co-chairmen. James “Buck” Harless is the national campaign honorary chairman. All three have made significant contributions to WVU, both of their time and resources.
“I attribute much of the success I’ve had in my life to the time I spent at West Virginia University,” said Reynolds, who is vice-chair of the WVU Foundation Board of Directors. “I love the University…I feel an obligation to give back. It afforded me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t come here. I feel blessed with the career I have, but I don’t think it would have happened if it wasn’t for WVU.”
Purdy, who is chairman of the Foundation Board, added, “WVU gave me and generations of others a great education. It changed our lives. With great leadership, great faculty and staff, and great students, we are poised for a new era of impact – if only we have the resources to realize our potential. 'A State of Minds' gives us the opportunity to leverage the power of our intellectual enterprise. It allows us to expand and extend our land-grant mission by serving our national and global communities through the accomplishments we achieve here at home.”
WVU junior Katherine Bomkamp, who developed a prosthetic device to help amputees when she was just 16, spoke at the kickoff about the positive support and mentoring she has received at the University.
“While I was not born and raised a Mountaineer, I chose to become a Mountaineer,” she said. “In the two short years I’ve been here, I feel as though this state has adopted me. This University has truly changed my life, and I know it has done the same for countless numbers of my peers. I know that wherever life takes me, I will always have a home in West Virginia and a family here at WVU.”
A Waldorf, Md. native, Bomkamp developed the “Pain Free Socket” after seeing amputees struggle at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She and her father, a U.S. Air Force veteran, frequently visited the Bethesda, Md.-based facility. Bomkamp was named a Newman Civic Fellow earlier this year. She also was named one of Glamour Magazine’s 21 Amazing Young Women in 2011.
Wayne King, Foundation president and CEO, recognized and thanked the thousands of donors who already have contributed to A State of Minds.
“Despite a national recession and several leadership changes at the University over the past five years, alumni and friends of WVU continue to give generously,” King said. “This is indicative of the loyalty and passion our donors have for West Virginia University. We firmly believe this commitment will continue.”
King noted this will be the first comprehensive campaign for WVU which will utilize hundreds of volunteers. Along with a 23-member national volunteer committee, the campaign also will have West Virginia and regional volunteer chairs. Each college and school will have its own campaign committee with its chair also serving on the national committee.
Alumna Alison Deem of Bridgeport, a 1970 graduate of the College of Creative Arts, spoke on behalf of the many University alumni and friends who are volunteering to help with the campaign.
“West Virginia University means so much to me, my fellow alumni, to West Virginians, and to people with West Virginia hearts and minds – no matter where they live,” Deem said. “The State of Minds campaign gives us a perfect opportunity to show our gratitude, to give something back.”
The campaign kick-off luncheon included the debut of a campaign video, a performance by The Dueling Fiddlers of Lewisburg, W.Va., and a stirring acappella rendition of Simple Gifts by Shirley Robinson, administrative assistant in the Office of the Provost.
For more on A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University, visit www.astateofminds.com.
The WVU Foundation was charted in 1954 to secure, hold and administer funds and properties given by individuals, corporations and philanthropic foundations in support of WVU.