Cardinals Share Stories, Gifts As Campaign Nears $350 Million

Share your "This is Why" reason you love and value your Wesleyan experience and education through the new campaign website.

Share your “This is Why” reason you love and value your Wesleyan experience and education through the campaign website.

From a journalist who launched a publishing start-up, to the multifaceted designer of the “Fremont Troll,” to a noted international lawyer, scores of Cardinals took time last year to share their “This Is Why” stories with Wesleyan.

That loyalty – and the many gifts also shared by alumni, parents and friends – led to a stellar year in the university’s fundraising campaign. Generous donors gave a total of $44.3 million in gifts and pledges in fiscal 2014. The campaign raised $43.8 million in cash, more than any previous year. And $25 million went directly into the endowment. Currently, giving to the THIS IS WHY campaign stands at $349.3 million toward a goal of $400 million.

“The Wesleyan community – alumni, parents, friends – has been generous in its support again,” said Chuck Fedolfi ’90, director of the Wesleyan Fund. “They have truly helped make the Wesleyan experience what it should be for our students on campus.”

Fedolfi said the Fund exceeded its annual goal of $10.25 million by $100,000, and stressed the importance of annual gifts.

“Our donors recognize that we need support every year,” Fedolfi said. “Without that consistent support, we just wouldn’t be the outstanding institution we are today.”

Wesleyan’s campaign, with financial aid its main priority, celebrates access, inquiry and impact across the university, and encourages alumni and friends to share not just their gifts, but their reasons why a Wesleyan education is their cause.

“I think what I got from Wesleyan was a positive attitude and the courage to try anything,” said Steve Badanes ’65, the noted architect and designer. “It might work. It might not work, but it’s not so bad if it goes either way.” Badanes, who designed the famous “Fremont Troll” sculpture that lurks under Seattle’s Aurora Bridge, contributed his story to the “This Is Why” collection here.

Laura Fraser ’82 credits Wesleyan with equipping her to think about the world from different angles, “politics, culture, psychology, mythology, literature and art,” says the freelance journalist and founder of Shebooks. “Wesleyan made me a more flexible, multidimensional thinker.

And King Berlew ’51, founder of the World Law Group, says: “What Wesleyan did was help me to develop and retain my interest in what was going on in the world,” before heading off to law school and a globe-spanning career, including two years in Pakistan as a Peace Corps director.

Barbara-Jan Wilson, vice president for university relations, was thrilled with the number of alumni and friends who turned out to support Wesleyan throughout the year.

“Whether during Access to Wes Week at the end of the year, or Giving Tuesday in December, or the GOLD parties around the world, we’ve seen so many friends come through for Wes,” she said. “This is Why!”

Some highlights from the year:

  • The number of planned gifts, including bequests, increased, raising well over $5 million. Planned giving provides donors several tax-advantaged ways to make the most of their gift to Wesleyan, and can be part of life and retirement planning.
  • Campaign events drew hundreds of Cardinals around the country. These included performances by Blue Man Group (featuring Chris Wink ’83), and Randy Newman ‘P14 – and conversations with Jonathan Bloom ’99 and Michael Pollan P’15.
  • Many parents joined the list of donors, contributing $11.3 million.
  • In a year that saw the Cardinals claim a Little Three football title for the first time since 1970, athletes started practicing on the renovated Anderson Track and new turf field made possible by generous alumni and parents. Support from alums also made possible the first night football game in NESCAC history, as Wesleyan whipped Tufts 52-9, under the (temporary) lights on Andrus Field.
  • Significant grants also counted toward the campaign, including important national foundation support for the Center for the Arts; the Center for the Humanities; the College of Film and the Moving Image, and the Center for Prison Education.
  • Wesleyan participated for the first time in “Giving Tuesday,” the global post-Thanksgiving day of personal philanthropy, raising more than $54,000 for the annual fund.
  • “Access to Wes” week in June celebrated five important programs that provide access to a Wesleyan education: A Better Chance Foundation; QuestBridge; Posse Foundation; Prep for Prep and the Freeman Asian Scholars. The mini-campaign netted more than $100,000 to support these programs.