POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—To coincide with today’s 150th anniversary of Vassar College’s founding, the college publicly announces “Vassar 150: World Changing,” a comprehensive fundraising campaign that has already raised $262 million in contributions and commitments toward a $400 million goal. The campaign focuses on three priorities: Vassar’s Annual Fund, which provides critical unrestricted financial support for the institution’s operations; a major new integrated science center with construction scheduled to begin in 2013; and support for such key aspects of access and excellence as financial aid, faculty salaries, library resources, and community partnership programs.
Vassar completed its previous major fundraising campaign in 1996 and raised $206 million, then a record total for a liberal arts college.
“The theme ‘world changing’ for this campaign resonates on so many levels,” said trustee and campaign chair Barbara Vogelstein, Vassar class of 1976. “Vassar changed the world at its founding when it admitted women. Vassar changes the world of each student who attends. Vassar graduates leave the college to go out and change the world. And finally, the world itself is changing, and Vassar needs the resources to continue providing an excellent education in this environment.”
In choosing Vassar’s Annual Fund as a cornerstone of this comprehensive campaign, the college is underscoring the importance of broad participation and contributions of every size. More than 90 percent of the donors who contribute to the college do so through unrestricted gifts to Vassar’s Annual Fund. In fact the college anticipates that the aggregate of gifts to its Annual Fund during the campaign will likely be $70-80 million, and will constitute the largest gift to “Vassar 150: World Changing.”
The Vassar integrated science center will include an exciting new 80,000 sq. ft. building and will support collaboration among the science departments and programs, as scientific study continues to become ever more interdisciplinary. For example, the new building will house labs for chemistry, environmental and earth science, and biochemistry, and will also be the new location of the Interdisciplinary Robotics Research Laboratory that teams up professors from biology, computer science, and psychology. The building also will literally be a bridge spanning a wetland area that is being restored as part of the project, and it will connect the college's south campus with its main campus. The building will be designed by Ennead Architects (formerly known as Polshek Partnership), whose projects have included the Rose Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. To complete Vassar’s integrated science center two historic buildings, Sanders Physics and New England, will be extensively renovated, and the Olmsted Hall of Biological Sciences will be modestly renovated as well.
Increased financial aid is a top priority of the “Vassar 150: World Changing” campaign, upholding the commitment of college founder Matthew Vassar that “no student of superior promise should be turned away due to a lack of means.” Today 60% of Vassar’s students are receiving financial aid directly from the college, and the college spends more than a quarter of its operating budget on financial aid.
Yet, “As crucial as financial aid is, it only begins to define access to the excellence at Vassar,” said president Catharine Hill. “Allowing all of our students access to the campus’s extraordinary resources, from our world-class faculty to the treasure trove that is the Vassar Libraries, is the bedrock of the Vassar experience – a liberal arts education of superlative quality."
Several large early gifts from Vassar graduates contributed to the current $262 million fundraising total, including an anonymous $26 million commitment and two gifts over $10 million.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.