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Lehigh exceeds $500 million campaign goal

The Men's Glee Club, directed by Steven P. Sametz, the Ronald J. Ulrich Chair in Music, performs a medley of Lehigh songs from the skybox overlooking the celebration guests at Grace Hall. Photo by Douglas Benedict

Lehigh University recently completed its most ambitious fundraising campaign, exceeding a $500 million goal to support student scholarships, endowed faculty chairs and coaching positions, renovations and restorations to many campus landmarks, and innovative academic and athletic programs.

“The overwhelming generosity and dedication of those who contributed to the Shine Forever campaign will have a lasting impact on Lehigh University,” said Lehigh President Alice P. Gast. “Their investment will provide the distinctive Lehigh experience for students for generations to come.”

Lehigh University’s Shine Forever campaign publicly launched in 2004 and generated more than $508 million through December 2009. On Thursday evening, some 300 members of the Lehigh family gathered in Grace Hall—which was renovated as part of the campaign—to celebrate the success and what it means for Lehigh’s future. (Click here to see video footage from the celebration.)

“While the campaign raised an impressive $508 million, the legacy of Shine Forever cannot, and should not, be measured merely in terms of dollars raised,” Board of Trustees Chairman and Honorary Campaign Co-Chair Daniel E. Smith Jr. ’71 told the gathering of benefactors, alumni and friends, faculty, staff and students. “Rather, it should be measured in the hundreds of new endowed scholarships for our students, in the newly endowed positions created for our faculty members and coaches, in the beautifully renovated and expanded facilities on this campus, and in the many new initiatives and programs we have created.”

Two critical areas received significant support during the campaign: endowed scholarships and endowed faculty chairs and coaching positions. The university’s endowed scholarships nearly doubled from 554 to 1,091—adding more than $132 million in endowment funds, critical support for students in today’s economic climate. The percentage of annual financial aid budget funded through endowment jumped from 23 percent to 32.5.

A record-setting campaign gift of $34.2 million from the estate of the late Donald B. Stabler ’30 in 2008 will leave a lasting legacy on the university with more than 275 students earning Stabler Scholarships this year alone.

The number of endowed chairs and coaching positions more than doubled from 20 to 47, adding more than $131 million in support.

The Shine Forever campaign also generated:

  • More than $120 million in support of the Lehigh Fund. Supported by gifts made by alumni and friends, the Lehigh Fund powers the university on a day-to-day basis as a vital part of the operating budget, and provides critical support for athletics, student programs and financial aid resources. During the campaign, Lehigh directed 100 percent of unrestricted Lehigh Fund gifts to financial aid and scholarship programs. Gifts to the Athletics Partnership represent 56 percent of the income generated by athletics.

  • $76 million in support of operations and innovative programming. These funds support newly developed programs such as South Mountain College, the Center for Optical Technologies and the Cable Center for Athletics Leadership Development.  Each of these programs offers opportunities where academic and learning experiences intersect, preparing students for the challenges of the future.

  • Almost $48 million in support of facilities. The Lehigh campus was revitalized from the stunning renovation of Linderman Library, to a beautifully refurbished Grace Hall and Coppee Hall, to the Cundey Varsity House for athletics, and the Science, Technology, Environment, Policy & Society (STEPS) building to open this fall—a place where engineers and natural and social scientists address the planet’s challenges. Funding also supported the restoration of Lehigh founder Asa Packer’s original vision of a pedestrian campus, with the opening of the Vresics Library Drive Walkway and the Alumni Memorial Walkway.

“Coming together for Lehigh, as all of you did, was a herculean effort,” said Ronald J. Ulrich ’66, a member of the Board of Trustees and Campaign Chair. “I am deeply proud of what we have achieved together to position Lehigh for the future, and I offer my sincere thanks to all of you who made this achievement possible.”

Smith echoed Ulrich’s expression of appreciation. “Lehigh proudly enters the second decade of the 21st century with a spirit of renewal,” Smith said. “The successful Shine Forever campaign serves as a wonderful testament to the generosity of Lehigh's benefactors, who consistently and enthusiastically support our mission to carry forth the Lehigh tradition.”

With the momentum from the campaign and the university’s newly adopted strategic plan, Gast believes Lehigh’s faculty and students are well positioned to make a difference in the world.

“Great universities are places of change. There are no finish lines, only new opportunities, new challenges and new goals,” Gast said. “We have set our sights high for the next era of Lehigh University and we will address the grand challenges of our time.”

Story by Duffy Ross

Posted on Friday, February 19, 2010

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