Pacific Lutheran University’s largest and most successful fund-raising effort ever concluded May 31 with gifts and pledges totaling more than $128 million, easily surpassing its $100 million goal.
“Even in these most difficult and challenging economic times, in countless ways the campaign succeeded in dramatically transforming the university,” Anderson said.
The campaign enhanced the quality of PLU’s academic program, creating new teaching and learning opportunities in what Anderson called an “improved schoolhouse.” It also helped assure continuing access to higher education for all by creating 100 new endowed scholarships.
“We have once again demonstrated the power of volunteerism and confirmed the selfless commitment of our alumni and other friends,” Anderson said. “They’re the more than 22,000 campaign donors who believe in our enduring values – our dedication to a high-quality education that provides an overriding sense of purpose in life.”
Support for Teaching and Learning
Bricks and mortar, scholarships and endowments were the watchwords of the Campaign for Pacific Lutheran University, but the heart of the campaign and evidence of its success are found in the support it has provided for individual students and faculty.
Among the new endowed scholarships, 16 are designated for music students from the estate of Agnes Berge Smith ’32. These merit-based awards enable PLU to attract the most talented students to the music program.“The fund-raising campaign has had a stunning impact on the department of music, in that we found a generous benefactor in Agnes Berge Smith,” said David Robbins, chairman of the department.
In terms of PLU’s “improved schoolhouse,” the campaign will pay for construction of the Morken Center for Learning and Technology and provided lead gifts for the renovation of Eastvold Auditorium. Both projects promise improved space for teaching and learning. If the campaign-funded 2001 renovation of Xavier Hall is any indication, the improvements will be profound.
“The changes resulting from the renovation of Xavier Hall are at once subtle and profound,” said David Huelsbeck, dean of the social sciences. “No one really notices that their offices are much more pleasant places to be than they once were. That’s just a little bit below the radar screen.
“But there has been a very noticeable improvement both in the atmosphere in the building and in teaching and learning,” he said.
Huelsbeck said the Nordquist Lecture Hall in particular has become a teaching gem in Xavier. In the past the acoustics were a constant challenge, and teaching there was difficult. Now it’s among the most highly effective places to teach on campus and is in constant demand.
“Throughout the building, new technologies enable us to teach in ways that would have been unthinkable prior to the renovation,” Huelsbeck said.
For example, the Xavier Hall anthropology laboratory is greatly improved, with a small computer lab to support the
biological anthropology and archaeology classes. For the first time there is sufficient space to securely store the teaching collections – such as fossil casts and human evolution casts – where they can be easily accessed.
“The lab is a great space. We can get dirty and wet and sloppy and clean it up and move out of the way and go on with another class,” Huelsbeck said. (See related story, page 6)
The Campus Remade
It is not possible here to recount the hundreds of ways in which The Campaign for Pacific Lutheran University has remade the campus. The pride expressed by David Robbins, Tamara Williams and Dave Huelsbeck only begins to reflect the core of this transformation. Multiply their appreciation five-, 10-, 20-fold or more to begin to grasp the campaign’s significance.
The worth can be seen in dramatic improvements, such as the upcoming Morken Center construction and Eastvold renovation, as well as Q Club scholarships, the creation of the Benson Family Chair in Business and Economic History and the Kelmer Roe Student/Faculty Research Fellowships. Also momentous are the support of the Lilly Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.
Donors’ reasons for giving to the campaign are innumerable, but the motivation for their philanthropy can be found through the reflections of a few.
From the Hearts of Donors
“I started giving to PLU right out of school,” said Alison Carl ’94. “Q Club was my first charitable experience, except giving at church. Q Club taught me about the importance of giving regularly.”
Carl is executive director of Seattle Works, a nonprofit organization that connects young adults to community volunteer and leadership opportunities and encourages philanthropy.
“I know how important small gifts are to cultivating and maintaining a broad base of support. They help people stay connected and continue to hear the PLU story,” she said.
“My ongoing support is a result of my belief that PLU is the reason I’m in the position I hold today. I’m grateful for that.”
Another campaign donor, businessman Ronald W. Cook ’86, had a similar experience at his alma mater.
“I run into a lot of people in my profession who are strictly number crunching accountants. They never learned how to work outside of the office, to make presentations and to interact with others,” said Cook.
“I have done well in my career because PLU gave me the skills to succeed in accounting, plus the knowledge to see the bigger picture and function as a successful manager,” he said.
Cook credits his mentor, advisor and accounting professor Judy Ramaglia for much of his success. In her honor he made a $20,000 pledge in support of the Morken Center that was enhanced by a $5,000 “match” from his employer at the time, PACCAR.
“Judy is a wonderful person. The personal attention I received from her and other PLU professors made all the difference. I am glad to give back to a place that helped me succeed,” Cook said.
The first gift to the Morken Center for Learning and Technology came from the Morken family.
The $19 million facility will be the new home for the study of business, computer science, computer engineering and mathematics. Construction will begin in late fall and be complete in the spring of 2006. It is the largest capital project in university history.
“Somebody had to do it,” Donald Morken ’60 said about being the first donor to the project.
In his customary no-nonsense style, Morken continued, “I mean projects like this one don’t get started on their own. Someone needs to step up to be the initial one to endorse them. In the case of this building, I had been on the Board of Regents for many years and so I knew that there was a real need.”
But then, on reflection, Morken’s deep regard for PLU and his own PLU experience emerged.
“I have been very fortunate in my lifetime and the university helped me get my life under way,” Morken said. “I decided it was time to give something back.”
The gift that alumna Karen (Hille) Phillips ’59 made to the campaign was, at the same time, magnanimous and personal. She designated $5 million for the restoration of Eastvold Hall. The auditorium there will be named Hille-Phillips Auditorium.
“I feel strongly about educating students for lives of service in a meaningful manner. And that is our mission after all,” Phillips said. “There are many problems in the world today and we so desperately need good people to help make the world a better place. There have to be solutions found to these problems other than war – solutions through peace.”
Phillips’ personal connection to Eastvold has lasted a lifetime. In the late 1920s a pastor from the Midwest came to visit her family on the farm in Ritzville, Wash. He was helping with a Norwegian Lutheran Church of America fund-raising campaign for Pacific Lutheran College. The pastor was Seth Eastvold, who in 1943 became president of PLC. He retired in 1962, three years after Phillips graduated.
“I was a very young girl at the time of his visit and that was the first I had heard of the college,” she said. “Somehow I knew I would go to college there. I never imagined that I would end up as a student, loving the chapel that was later named in Dr. Eastvold’s honor. Now I’m helping to rebuild and preserve it as the focal point for campus.”
Completion of the Eastvold project is the university’s next major fund-raising initiative.
Peter and Grace Wang also found deep personal satisfaction in their gift that established the Wang Center for International Programs.
The day after the 9/11 attack the Wangs said they knew they had to do something constructive in response. They donated blood, and they decided to create the Wang Center at PLU. They see it as a focal point for preparing students for a lifetime of leadership and service in an interconnected world, equipping them with the knowledge, insight and global understanding to be advocates for peace.
“For Grace and me, the gift meant that our students would have opportunities to understand the world better while they are at PLU,” Peter Wang said. “Our dream is that they will then be able to shape the future world and lead us to a peace-filled world during their lifetime. I trust them and believe in them and I know that they can do it.
“Our gift to the university is the best investment that we have ever made.”