Amidst the spectacular setting of the American Museum of Natural History this evening, Lafayette launched the public phase of its $400 million “Live Connected, Lead Change” campaign, the most ambitious fundraising effort in the College’s history.
“This campaign builds on Lafayette’s existing strengths, and connects them in ways that will propel Lafayette to the next level,” President Alison Byerly told the crowd of nearly 500 friends and supporters of the College gathered in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life for the campaign kickoff celebration.
The campaign is built around three overarching objectives. The first is to strengthen the connections between liberal arts and engineering, to better educate students to meet society’s increased demand for science and technology while preparing them to think critically and creatively. The second is to provide support for innovative and interdisciplinary teaching and learning, creating an immersive, 24/7 educational experience. The third is to build a campus community that creates lifelong connections among students and gives them the intellectual and social skills they need to succeed.
“In my inaugural address I spoke of the legacy of the Marquis de Lafayette in shaping Lafayette’s identity, and we continue to build on the values that inspired the College at its founding. The idealism and spirit of self-determination that are part of that legacy will help us to move boldly into the leadership ranks of higher education. The future we imagine will shape not only the lives of our students, but also the very definition of a contemporary liberal arts education,” Byerly said.
The campaign kickoff was held on the eve of the 150th meeting between Lafayette and Lehigh in college football’s most-played rivalry. The game, before a sellout crowd of more than 49,000 people in Yankee Stadium, caps a week of celebration among Lafayette students, faculty, staff, and alumni on campus, in New York, and across the country.
“This is a night when we can feel the excitement in the air and where the symbolism is more than a coincidence,” said Edward Ahart ’69, chair of the Board of Trustees. “This is an unusual moment of possibility and hope. That so many of you have joined us from all over the country and from so many different backgrounds is yet another symbol of who we are now and of the promise that we hold for Lafayette in the future.”
The College has received gifts and pledges totaling $236 million during the campaign’s leadership phase. These include a gift of $27.9 million from Kent Rockwell ’66 to support initiatives in science, technology, and innovation, and a gift of $10 million from an anonymous donor toward financial aid for students. There have been 48 gifts or pledges of $1 million or more, 10 of which exceed $5 million. More than 20,000 donors, including more than 14,000 alumni, have supported the campaign.
Campaign commitments to date have enabled Lafayette to renovate the Quad and create Anderson Courtyard, transform Scott Hall and Grossman House, and construct Oechsle Center for Global Education and Morel Field House. The College has also received substantial support for an integrated sciences center and the Center for Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership (IDEAL). Gifts have endowed 10 professorships and other key positions, including those held by the director of engineering, the director of the life sciences program, the co-directors of IDEAL, and the head football coach. Several of Lafayette’s largest endowed scholarships have been created or substantially augmented.
“Your generosity has already created an impressive foundation upon which we will build during the coming months to secure our ultimate goal of $400 million,” said Stephen Pryor ’71, chair of the campaign’s executive committee. “Yes, it’s a big number. But our devotion and commitment to Lafayette are even greater. Together, we will achieve our vision. Together, we will lead change.”