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November 23rd Update

  • Sunday, Nov 23, 2014

Great news in advancement

The last couple of weeks have been remarkable in terms of raising funds. Since the last version of Work In Progress, we either learned of or announced three gifts totaling nearly $1.5 million—with the value of those gifts being even higher!

  • At the Heritage Dinner on November 3, Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation announced a $500,000 investment in the Community Scholars program—the Daniel Carey Community Scholars Fund. This funding will support an extra Community Scholar every four years.
  • The next day, we learned more specifics about an estate gift. A few weeks ago, we had learned that we would receive a gift…on November 4, we learned that the amount of that gift was estimated at $400,000-$450,000. We will learn more specifics in mid-2015, when the gift is executed.
  • On Thursday, we announced the specifics a gift of $500,000 from Catherine Zdeblick (this is the gift I introduced at College Assembly on Monday). Catherine’s son AJ was an early participant in the Cutting Edge program, which made a profound impact upon him. This gift is eligible for the million-dollar match in place through the end of the year. As a result, the impact of this gift is effectively doubled! The Wisconsin State Journal picked up this story on Friday.

Many people have been involved in the stewardship of previous gifts that resulted in each of these gifts. Without us delivering on our promise to Great Lakes about their earlier investment in Community Scholars, there’s no opportunity for their most recent investment. If we hadn’t proven to be good stewards of a previous significant gift, it is unlikely we would have received the estate gift we did. And if AJ hadn’t had a life changing experience here, the $500,000 residence hall gift would not have happened.

Please join me in thanking all of those directly involved in this work—and know that the work each of us does to deliver on our promise increases our ability to generate greater philanthropic support.

Speaking of the Residence Hall

In the last edition of this communication, I shared with you that we were in the process of surveying sophomores about their interest in staying on campus. We learned that there is sizable interest in living on campus—in fact, over 90% of sophomores indicated that the College should consider residential options for upper-class students. In addition, we learned about the types of space and policies we need to implement to make living on campus past sophomore year more attractive. One important step may be to convert some parts of Dominican Hall into more apartment- or community (the preferred name for what many of us might call co-op) style housing; student research showed great interest in the apartments, and we plan to pilot one community pod in fall 2015.

At the same time, we are making substantial progress toward our goal of $3.4 million—over $2 million has already been raised, nearly $240,000 remains eligible for the match, and we have a number of promising asks and meetings pending. As a result, I am more confident than ever that this project is an exciting next step in improving the quality of the student experience and in contributing toward our financial stability.

We are grateful for the support of so many of you who have pledged your financial support toward this project as part of the internal campaign—keep your eyes open for additional opportunities to get involved on December 2, otherwise known as “Giving Tuesday” (which follows “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” in the post-Thanksgiving progression).

Board Meeting November 20

The Board showed their confidence in the Regina project as well. After a review of the information we gathered since the September meeting, they authorized moving forward on this project, with a targeted groundbreaking of May 2015. In addition, they engaged in a discussion about the operating budget. The results of that conversation will be shared with the Planning & Budget Committee and will inform the development of the 2015-16 operating budget, which Trustees will be asked to approve in March, as well as the content and process for future years. At a post-meeting reception, Trustees also had the opportunity to meet with faculty members who were promoted or who received tenure at the March 2014 meeting. This reception is a long standing tradition, intended to create a stronger relationship between faculty and Trustees.

College Assembly November 17

Thanks to all of you who attended the first College Assembly of the year. From the evaluation forms collected at the meeting (available under “Announcements” on the College Assembly page), it appears the format worked well as a way to engage genuinely around current topics—in this case, the residence hall and the operating budget. I’ll review these evaluations with the President’s Council as well as the leadership of Faculty Association and Staff Association as we prepare for spring meetings.

Dual Enrollment

Don’t forget to take time to review your benefit package during our Annual Benefits Enrollment Period, which expires on Monday, November 24. This is the only time of year when you can enroll or change your health insurance without what is termed a “Qualifying Life Event”, and it is also your opportunity to enroll or change your participation in other benefits. Please consult the Benefits tab on the Human Resources page for more detail.

End of Semester

It is hard to imagine that we are already talking about the end of the semester…but since we have experienced accumulating snow and below zero wind chills, I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised. I’d encourage you to join me at a few upcoming events:

December 6 and 7 Christmas Concert
December 10 Festival of Lights
December 14 Winter Commencement
December 18 Faculty & Staff Christmas Party

Of course, there are many more events happening all the time on campus…you can find a listing of events, and more detail about the ones above, on the College Calendar.

Thanksgiving Wishes

Best wishes to you and your family for a relaxing, enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend. I am particularly thankful for such a talented, committed, supportive campus community. Together, we are building a more just and compassionate world through our work with students, with our colleagues, and with our partners in the greater Madison community and beyond!