By Connor Smith
When the College began The Campaign for TCNJ four years ago, consultants claimed it would be difficult to raise $25 million by June 2017, according to College Spokesperson Dave Muha. Instead, the College nearly doubled that estimate — with four months to spare.
President R. Barbara Gitenstein announced the campaign hit its $40 million milestone on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at a breakfast with campus leaders.
“I’ve always felt that if we were to undertake the enormous effort of mounting a comprehensive campaign, we would have to do better,” Gitenstein said, according to a press release. “And so, $40 million was our stretch goal.”
A $100,000 gift from alumnus Leo Kelly (’97), which went to students from Allentown, N.J.; Bordentown, N.J.; and Trenton, N.J., pushed the campaign over the $40 million milestone, according to the press release.
For students, this means scholarships, facilities and academic enrichment will all be bolstered thanks to the donors’ generosity. Of the money raised, $20 million will go toward student scholarships and $14 million will benefit the student experience, according to Muha.
Examples of fundraising priorities include $500,000 for annual full-tuition scholarships, while student enrichment goals include travel scholarships, athletic travel, the lecture series and more. The campaign also sought to ensure the STEM Complex provides access to modern labs and cross-disciplinary environments.
Vice President for College Advancement John P. Donohue told The Signal that this goal was a massive undertaking.
“There was so many things that TCNJ excels in: the academics, the student life and those things. And fundraising had lagged a little bit behind,” Donohue said. “I think it demonstrated that alumni really do care about the financial burden that students are carrying, and trying to alleviate that. I think it really helped us fine tune our messages, back to alumni and other people that want to support the College.”
Donohue also emphasized the generosity of 11,891 donors, which includes students, faculty, alumni and anyone interested in the College’s success.
“This was not a campaign of a handful of really big gifts,” he said. “Students have been fabulous. When we had our Day of Giving, students (were) lining up outside of Eickhoff. Faculty and staff have been very active and very generous. Meeting with donors and the alumni and our volunteers have been extraordinary.”
While the College’s name has changed several times throughout the years, Donohue thanks the alumni for making the College what it is today.
“What we tell folks is that the only reason TCNJ is as good as it is now is because they were as good as they were when they were here,” he said. “I think that’s resonated with folks. Everyone wants to be a part of this institution, whatever its name was. It’s been pretty exciting and rewarding to talk to some older alums.”
While campaign co-Chairs Allen Silk and alumna Barbara Meyers Pelson (’59) were thankful to every donor who made this campaign a success, both expressed interest in pushing beyond to goal in the coming months.
“This campaign has never been about simply reaching a dollar goal,” Silk and Pelson wrote in a message to volunteers, according to the press release. “Its purpose is to provide the vital support the college needs to fulfill its important mission — to continue to innovate, inspire and engage future generations of students.”
The campaign will continue until June 30, and both co-chairs encourage donors to join in on the ¨historic moment.”