$125.2 million campaign exceeds goal and surpasses modern college record
ALMA — Alma College has concluded the most ambitious and successful fundraising campaign in its history.
“Our Time is Now: The Campaign for Alma College,” wrapped up June 30 after inspiring more than $125.2 million in giving over the course of eight years. In total, 9,443 separate donors, including 4,506 alumni, pledged their support to current and future students at Alma College.
“Our Time is Now” surpassed the record for an amount raised in an Alma College philanthropic campaign. The college’s previous campaign, “Open Windows, which concluded in 2010, raised $37.3 million. “Our Time is Now” also exceeded its goal of raising $120 million.
“This astonishing show of support is a ringing endorsement of the timeless values, family-oriented culture, personalized approach, outstanding academic programs and phenomenal people who have transformed students’ lives for more than 130 years,” said Alma College President Jeff Abernathy. “We are deeply grateful to the enormous number of faculty, students, volunteer leaders and donors who helped make this campaign the biggest in the history of Alma College.”
Philanthropic support is critical to ensuring the success of Alma College in fulfilling its mission. Private gifts from individuals, families, businesses and foundations augment student tuition and fees, grants and other operating revenues. Donor giving translates into scholarships and investments in academic programs and capital projects. It enhances access to higher education for vulnerable communities, delivers funding for groundbreaking research, supports extracurricular and athletic activities, and so much more.
From its inception, “Our Time is Now” has been dedicated to providing the financial engine powering student success at Alma. Donations have resulted in the completion of several major construction projects across campus and in the city of Alma, including the Gerstacker Science and Technology Suite, the Hatcher Wrestling Room, the Sherman Strength and Conditioning Facility, Greek scholar houses and the Wright Leppien Opera House.
Funding to support the construction of a new Learning Commons facility comes from the “Our Time is Now” campaign. When complete, the Learning Commons will transform Alma College’s current library — built more than 55 years ago and suffering from a range of maintenance challenges — into a hub of activity, providing versatile, open spaces for learning, socializing, dining and collaborating.
“Our Time is Now” dollars also benefit the renovation of Dunning Memorial Chapel, Alma College’s most beloved and iconic facility. The renovated chapel will serve as a valuable instrument of campus life, bringing Alma College into the 21st century while ensuring that its Presbyterian roots remain strong and firm.
Donors also enhanced the college’s endowment by establishing 32 newly named endowed funds and fortifying dozens of existing endowed funds. An additional 183 donors created enduring legacies by including the college in their estate plans.
“The success of ‘Our Time is Now’ is an incredible boost of confidence for Alma in its present state and a tremendous affirmation in its future,” said Eric Blackhurst ’83, chair of the college’s Board of Trustees. “This extraordinary outcome provides a tangible example of how Alma College is well suited to continue expanding opportunities for the students of tomorrow and serves as a safeguard for the challenges to higher education that lie ahead.”
The success of “Our Time is Now” was fueled in part by large donors. The college’s Board of Trustees contributed more than $40 million by itself. Thirty-two separate donations were $1 million or more. Included in those totals is the single-largest gift in Alma College history, an $8-million commitment from an anonymous donor.
Another noteworthy gift came from the late Gunda Kaiser, Alma’s longtime professor of Spanish. Kaiser was a major proponent of Alma’s performing arts programs and of international experiential learning. Her endowed gift of nearly $4 million will support students engaged in such activities in perpetuity.
Campaign co-chairs and longtime Alma College supporters John and Nancy Colina credited the college Advancement Office with working hard to ensure the success of the campaign.
With a relentless focus on building relationships and boosting confidence among the campus community, the team was able to show many people who had donated smaller sums to Alma in the past that they could feel good about making bigger gifts — and that they should, too.
“Fundraising and organization is the strength of those in the Advancement Office,” Nancy Colina, a parent of two Alma alumna, said. “This was an ambitious campaign, but they knew what they had to do, so they broke it down into smaller, achievable goals that could be put together to come up with a great plan. I think our very generous donors saw that and realized they could make a difference.”
John Colina, a trustee emeritus who was on the Board of Trustees for nearly 20 years, added: “I think donors realized the world is changing and with it, education is changing as well. I think Alma is too good to be left behind, I’m pleased to see so many agreed with that sentiment.”