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The Next Bold Step: Campaign prepares the way for dramatic changes

By Greg Brewis, Photos by Jordan Hartman '02


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.

It was a fund-raising campaign for the ages. Beginning in 1998 and ushering PLU into the new millennium, The Campaign for Pacific Lutheran University: The Next Bold Step was both extraordinary in what it achieved and enduring in the promise its achievements hold for the future of the university.

The campaign reinforced the university’s mission and core values while changing the lives of students and faculty, according to President Loren J. Anderson.

Atrium of the future Morken Center for Learning and Technology.

“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.

Examples abound.

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.

“She gave PLU a wonderful endowment of $2.5 million so that music students would have what she called the ‘liberating experience’ in music that she had while a student,” he said.

Smith was member of the 1932 Choir of the West that sang at the Chicago World’s Fair. In recognition of the importance of that tour to Smith, a portion of her gift also supports music-group travel. Now students in the four major performing ensembles have the opportunity to travel and perform abroad at least once during their four years at PLU.

The campaign also has transformed other programs at PLU. For example, international education, both on and off campus, has been enhanced through gifts from the Teagle Foundation and from Peter ’60 and Grace Wang, who established the Wang Center for International Programs.

The three-year, $455,000 Teagle grant enabled faculty to strategically plan and implement a more distinctive international program at PLU.

With foundation support, the School of Business moved to enhance its undergraduate curriculum to focus more intentionally on global education.

The faculty in social work built a course of study that will incorporate international internships in Trinidad, Namibia and Mexico.

Other campus academic programs have used Teagle resources in similar ways to assess both how the world has changed and the need to change teaching to remain current.

“There are many more options in international education now,” said Tamara Williams, the faculty director of the Teagle grant. “More than ever, international education as we understand it at PLU is both local and global.”

While the Teagle grant has supported on-campus curricular development, the Wang Center’s focus has largely been off-campus programs. Together they ensure that every student has opportunities to integrate their course work and cocurricular experiences before, during and after they travel abroad.

The $4 million gift establishing the Wang Center supports academic programs, coordinates off-campus programs and offers public symposia including the successful China symposium and the upcoming “Pathways to Peace: The Norwegian Approach to Democracy and Development,” that will be held on campus and in downtown Tacoma in January 2005.

Each year the Wang Center also provides financial support for student and faculty study and travel. This year a total of $25,000 supported 14 faculty with grants of up to $2,500 for travel and study to locations around the world including Taiwan, Japan, Switzerland and South Africa. Professors prepared J-Term courses, attended academic roundtables and conducted research – in many cases with undergraduate student partners.

  • Full funding of the $19 million Morken Center for Learning and Technology.
  • A gift of $12 million from an anonymous graduate to provide support for facilities’ construction, scholarships and endowment. It was the largest gift ever to PLU.
  • Lead gifts of more than $5 million for the restoration of Eastvold.
  • A gift of $4 million to establish the Wang Center for International Programs.
  • The $3.5 million renovation of Xavier Hall provided a new home for programs in the social sciences and an additional $1.5 million endowment supports academic programs and technology.
  • A $2 million grant from the Lilly Foundation to support the Wild Hope Project, which is dedicated to working with students on questions of vocation.
  • Creation of the Benson Family Chair in Business and Economic History, the first fully funded endowed chair at PLU.
  • Establishment of the Kelmer Roe Student/Faculty Research Fellowships in the humanities for undergraduate student research grants.
  • The market value of the university’s endowment grew from $30.7 million in 1998 to more than $51 million. These gifts enable the university to provide scholarships and recruit and retain the best students, to provide faculty support for teaching and research, and to provide enhancements to the university’s technology infrastructure.
  • Generous and record-setting annual operating support of more than $2 million a year from alumni and friends made it possible for the university to provide an education of the highest quality and fund program and financial aid enhancements while maintaining a balanced budget.
  • The campaign met challenges from the Kresge Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust that resulted in $1.85 million in matching gifts.

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

Among the most extraordinary aspects of the campaign is the fact that more than 22,000 alumni and friends of the university contributed. Of those, 171 gave more than $100,000 each for a major gifts total of almost $99 million.

According to President Anderson, giving patterns also were remarkable in that the three largest gifts – $12 million, $8 million and $5 million – came from PLU graduates. In the university’s Make a Lasting Difference Campaign, which concluded in 1996, the three largest gifts came from friends who did not attend PLU.

“That our three largest gifts came from PLU alumni is a sign of the maturation of the institution,” Anderson said.

“Our graduates at all levels of giving see their support of the university as an investment that comes out of gratitude for their own past experience and also a belief that by helping to perpetuate the PLU experience they can provide similar transforming educational experiences for the next generation,” he said.

Both themes emerged in conversations with campaign donors and PLU alumni Alison Carl, Ronald W. Cook, Donald Morken, Karen Phillips and Peter Wang.

Major gifts received much of the attention during the campaign, but of critical importance to its ultimate success were the smaller gifts – such as donations to the Annual Fund and Q Club – from thousands of alumni and friends. The 21,829 donors who gave less than $100,000 together contributed almost $30 million – an amount that many universities would consider a successful campaign in itself.

Laine Walters '05. (Photo by Joanne Lisosky)

“Writing about the United Nations from Geneva has always been a dream of mine. The Wang Center grant gave me a brief introduction to and testing ground for what I envision as a future vocation.

“It raised my vocational exploration to a level that PLU wouldn’t be able to give me any other way. This extra step is so important for the integration of what I’ve learned at PLU and how I may use it in the larger world.”

Laine Walters ’05 is a print journalism and global studies major with a comparative ethnicities emphasis. She is editor of The Mast.

She visited the United Nations general assembly hall in Geneva where she spent three weeks last summer on study-travel grants from the Wang Center and from the Wild Hope Project funded by the Lilly Foundation. Traveling with her were Samantha Thompson ’05 and Joanne Lisosky, professor of communication. They also received study-travel grants from PLU.

Their trip was in preparation for the development of a human rights reporting class at PLU.

“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.”

 

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© Scene 2004  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Fall 2004

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