The College has initiated its largest fundraising campaign in history, known as Fearlessly Consequential. A two-day event between Oct. 14 and 15 kicked off the campaign, which is intended to raise $500 million for the purpose of elevating Vassar’s standing, an idea expressed by Board of Trustees Chair Anthony Friscia ’78 to a gathering of more than 300 Vassar community members, per the campaign webpage.
In a written email correspondence, Vice President for Advancement Tim Kane discussed the campaign’s origins, as well as its overall structure. “In 2018-19, President Elizabeth Bradley convened a yearlong, inclusive Priorities and Planning process that included students, faculty, staff, and administrators—culminating in a set of priorities put forward by the Priority and Planning Committee and approved by the senior leadership team and the Board of Trustees.”
He continued: “In early 2020, we began building the quiet phase of the fundraising campaign to support those priorities. We began to test those ideas with major prospective donors among our alums and found they resonated quite well.”
According to Kane, the College began to advertise the campaign once it had raised $200 million, which it achieved over the summer. “We announced we had raised $210 million at the launch event on October 15 and now have five years to raise a total of $500 million.”
The campaign is structured around four “pillars,” each of which Kane explained in detail. “Pillar 1: The Power of the Liberal Arts is a set of priorities that support faculty, students
, and curriculum. Student Financial Aid is a major priority in this pillar, as is faculty scholarship and research,” he said. The College plans to add a new Admission & Career Education Center and a Center for Multidisciplinary Study as a part of this segment of the campaign.
Pillar 2: Campus Community, as Kane described, addresses concerns related to the residential houses, health and wellness and athletics and recreation. “Major priorities here include an ongoing commitment to engaged pluralism across our campus, an endowment for additional resources in health and wellness, including mental health, a Sport and Recreation facility, and ongoing improvements to our residences,” he explained.
The third pillar, Vassar in the World, is concerned with the Vassar community’s impact on the outside community, and vice versa. “Our forthcoming Institute for the Liberal Arts, our goal to be carbon neutral by 2030, new funds to grow people and programs in our Career Development Office, and our community engagement with Poughkeepsie all fall into this pillar,” he described.
The fourth and last pillar, A Campaign for All, is where Kane says that the majority of donors will experience the campaign. “It is our Vassar Fund program (including Generation Vassar), to which alums (and students!) can make a gift of $5 or more to help support Vassar. And, it is where our alums (later in life) leave bequests in their wills to Vassar and whose gifts live on in perpetuity,” he added.
Co-Chair of the Vassar Student Philanthropy Council, Chase Engel ’23, was invited to speak at the campaign launch on how the contributions will have a direct and immediate impact on College. “The initiatives for Vassar’s sustainable future, be they surrounding campus community culture, curriculum, accessibility, sustainability, or other important aspects to the Vassar experience, are all very exciting!” they said in a written correspondence.
Bradley spoke about the beneficiaries of the campaign, stressing that campaigns are often about “paying it forward” to future generations of the Vassar community. She explained, “We must keep building our resources for financial aid to be able to meet rising demand for scholarships. We must keep updating and improving our residential and academic facilities while honoring our history. We must keep recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty and students, and all of this requires financial resources above and beyond what tuition covers.”
She also spoke about the fruits of the campaign’s labor, the expected timeline for its benefits to pan out. “Some of the effects are more immediately visible—such as buildings like the Institute, Faculty Housing, the refurbished Chicago Hall and parts of Main, and soon, the Admission & Career Education Center; other improvements have been the new computer science classroom, the Innovation Center and the Mug. The Data Science & Society Development Fund was established along with new endowed professorships in Media Studies and Neuroscience & Behavior,” she described.
Engel added, “Many of the alumni present graduated within the last decade. This makes me hopeful for the Class of ’23 and future classes to also give back to the college and continue a tradition of philanthropy and care for the future of all members of our community.”