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Beating the Clock:
The New Oberlin Century Campaign Runs Ahead of Schedule

Donors Respond Overwhelmingly to Appeal for Scholarships
by Anne C. Paine

Fund raising in The New Oberlin Century campaign is running well ahead of schedule: 88.8 percent of the campaign's $165 million goal has been raised in 81 percent of the time period.

As of February 28, 2003, a total of $145.5 million in campaign gifts had been recorded. More than 28,000 gifts have been received from 21,536 alumni, 630 corporations and businesses, 79 foundations, and 125 other groups.

Campaign co-chairs Joan Lewis Danforth, Thomas J. Klutznick '61, and William L. Robinson '63, thanked all who have worked to keep the campaign moving forward.
"We have much to be proud of," says Klutznick. "The unflagging efforts of our many volunteers and the leadership of President Nancy S. Dye have made our successes possible."

"The large number of people who have contributed to the campaign so far is impressive, and it shows the very positive impact that Oberlin has had on the lives of its alumni," says Robinson.

"This campaign has already affected campus life in important ways, including the construction and dedication of the Oberlin Science Center and the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies. And plans are under way for a new visual arts center that will transform the east end of campus," Danforth adds.

When the campaign was announced in 1999, several broad areas of need were defined: strengthening student scholarships, maintaining the excellence of Oberlin's faculty, investing in new and renovated facilities, and increasing restricted and unrestricted current-use funding, which supports day-to-day needs of the College. Fund raising in
two of these areas--endowed student scholarships and unrestricted current use funds--has been especially successful.

The goal for student scholarships was set at $22 million; the total raised to date is $38.5 million.

"Donors have responded overwhelmingly to the need for additional scholarship funding," says Dye. "This response demonstrates the firm belief in equity, excellence, and generosity that is so typical of Oberlinians."

Unrestricted current-use gifts to the College have also been coming in at a steady pace. With $16.7 million received, 84 percent of the $20 million goal has been met. These gifts primarily comprise annual and reunion gifts from alumni, but in the past several years, gifts from the senior class have also contributed to this component of the campaign.

Giving to The Oberlin Fund has been particularly noteworthy. Des-pite the current economic uncertainty, annual-giving results from last July through December compared favorably with results for the same six-month period in all past years of the campaign. In fact, the total posted for the period was the second-highest total for that period over the entire campaign.

Despite these successes, much work remains to be done, and significant challenges remain. In the coming months, the campaign will be contacting all those who have not yet been asked for a campaign gift.

"Unlike past campaigns, we want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to participate in this campaign, and to know that they have been offered an opportunity to participate," says John Hays, vice president of development and campaign director.

Among the remaining challenges are the areas of faculty support, student support, restricted current-use funds, and building needs, particularly a visual arts center and a black-box theater.

Faculty support is a broad goal that encompasses endowed professorships as well as research and professional development funds for faculty members. To date, about 34 percent of the goal for endowed professorships has been raised, and three endowed, named professorships have been created. To meet the goal set at the beginning of the campaign, another seven professorships are needed.

Endowed professorships are important for two reasons: they recognize outstanding faculty members in a highly visible way, and they free up money for raising faculty salaries overall.

"Our faculty is highly recognized nationally, and to keep our best faculty members here at Oberlin, it's vital that we acknowledge them financially in a way commensurate with the recognition they've earned in their fields and from their peers," says Dye.

Increased funding for student support beyond scholarships is also an urgent need. Gifts for collaborative student-faculty research play a crucial role in Oberlin students' postgraduate success. In many fields, such research is the entry key to graduate study. Just 21 percent of the $3 million goal for prize, research, and fellowship funds for students has been met.

Funds designated for current use in the College of Arts and Sciences and Conservatory of Music are also an ongoing need. An additional $7.1 million is needed to meet the $15 million goal for this area.

Finally, building needs--in particular, a visual arts center and a black-box theater--remain incompletely funded.

The need for art space has become apparent during this campaign. Demand for studio-art courses has been growing nationally; since 1990, the number of art majors at Oberlin has increased nearly 300 percent. Overcrowding and frustration have resulted, as inflexible spaces have been unable to accommodate the number of interested students and the demands of new media and interdisciplinary endeavors.

The Los Angeles firm Frederick Fisher & Partners, an internationally recognized architectural firm specializing in the design of arts facilities and headed by Frederick Fisher '71, was hired in 2001 and is moving the project from concept to design. To date, just over $1 million has been raised for a visual arts center.

The urgent need for increased space for student productions at Oberlin dates from the mid-1980s, when interest in Oberlin's theater major began to increase steadily. James '62 and Debbie Burrows recently made a significant contribution that will allow the College to begin planning for a black-box theater dedicated to student productions.

These areas pose large, but not insurmountable, challenges for the campaign during its final year, Klutznick says. "Moving from $145 million to $165 million will not be easy, but with the assistance of every person who loves Oberlin, we'll achieve our goal."


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