Excelsior: The Gifts that will Keep Giving
By this time, many of the facts and figures have made the rounds: Excelsior: The Campaign for Hamilton lifted the curtain at the end of 2004 and lowered it on June 30 of this year, having raised $183.3 million — an unprecedented investment in the College's students, faculty, operations and future by Hamilton alumni, parents and friends. Excelsior reached its $175 million goal six months early, making a dramatic and immediate impact on the campus and passing an ambitious series of milestones along the way:
- The two most generous fiscal years of giving in the College's history, $30.8 million in 2006-07 and $24 million in 2007-08.
- A record number of donors, 17,476; in all, 75.3 percent of Hamilton graduates contributed.
- The largest single gift in Hamilton's history, $10 million in support of a new arts complex, from Wendy and Keith '50 Wellin.
- The largest endowed professorship in the College's history, $2.5 million from Elizabeth and Joel '65 Johnson P'93, to establish the J.W. Johnson Family Professorship in Environmental Studies.
- The continued and crucial growth of the Annual Fund, with alumni participation exceeding 50 percent for 27 consecutive years and more than half of all donors increasing their gift amount in 2007-08 as yearly contributions surpassed a record $5.8 million.
- Record gifts from the senior classes of both 2007 and 2008 — a 97.6 participation rate from the Class of 2007 and a $52,290 gift from the Class of 2008 to establish the Environmental Endowment Fund.
Taken together, such numbers provide dramatic evidence that the grand tradition of giving back to Hamilton is in good health across many generations. They illustrate the regard in which alumni continue to hold the College. And they suggest that, while proud of Hamilton's academic legacy, alumni also recognize that continued excellence is not a matter of standing fast, but of moving ahead with planning, timing and vision. Jeff Little '71 P'04, who chaired Excelsior as well as the 1996-2001 New Century Campaign, puts it simply: "I think it all speaks to the incredible loyalty of the alumni body, which is without peer," he says. "And that goes for parents as well. It's an amazingly supportive and interactive community."
The fact that 75 percent of graduates have contributed "is just staggering, one of the things we're most proud of," says Greg Hoogkamp '82, former chair of the Annual Fund. "Nothing else is a better measure of alumni commitment."
The key to Excelsior, though — and to the 21st-century Hamilton that it is helping to shape — may lie not only in the numbers, but in an observation by President Joan Hinde Stewart at the public opening of the campaign, on Dec. 3, 2004. "The campaign that we are launching here today," Stewart said, "aims to change the physical face of Hamilton without altering its soul." That turned out to be a prescient look at exactly how Excelsior would transform the Hill's resources and operations — even the campus landscape itself — while safeguarding Hamilton's legacy, raising its profile and continuing to build its reputation.
Within the four-year college career of a single student, Excelsior has fundamentally transformed Hamilton's facilities and resources. Every member of the campus community now feels the impact, from arriving at the Office of Admission and Financial Aid in the renovated and rededicated Siuda House, to attending classes in cutting-edge classrooms and labs in the expanded Kirner-Johnson Building and Science Center, to doing research at Burke Library, to taking part in wellness and adventure programs or simply having fun at the Charlean and Wayland Blood Fitness and Dance Center and the Outdoor Leadership Center. And the creation of nearly 70 endowed scholarships and professorships, the funding of dozens of student internships, and the current planning for arts facilities and an expanded Emerson Literary Society will bear Excelsior's legacy far into the future.