WOOSTER, Ohio – On Saturday night, the Scot faithful gathered on campus to celebrate the successful conclusion of the largest fund-raising campaign in The College of Wooster’s history. Wooster’s Promise: The Campaign for Our Future raised just over $190 million in cash and commitments to support five major priorities: student financial aid, academic strength, experiential education, the life sciences, and the Wooster Fund. Overall, the campaign exceeded its goal by $25 million.
More than 42 percent of Wooster’s alumni participated, including 5,790 first-time donors and 9,335 who gave in at least two of the campaign’s five years. Bequest commitments and other forms of planned giving represented 28 percent of the total dollars raised, ensuring that the impact of the campaign will be felt for years to come.
“This is the place where I learned to think, not just learn,” said Blake Moore ’80, chair of the campaign leadership team. “When I left, I believed I could do anything.” The formative role that Wooster played in his life is why he remains passionately committed to his alma mater.
In all, 1,471 individual donors gave more than $55 million to support student financial aid, including the creation of 71 new endowed scholarships. More than $19 million was raised to endow three new professorships and 34 new funds to support faculty scholarship, student Independent Study research, and individual academic department initiatives. Another 10 endowed funds were created to support APEX, the college’s integrated center for student academic and career advising, planning, and experiential learning, while the Wooster Fund, which provides operating support for every part of the college year in and year out, took in just over $17 million, from more than 14,000 individual donors.
The facts and figures are impressive, Moore told the audience on Saturday night before introducing a celebratory video, but they only tell part of the story. “This campaign was driven by emotion, from the heart, from the love of this college and what it has meant to so many people.”
On Saturday morning, the college officially dedicated the Ruth W. Williams Hall of Life Science, made possible by 150 donors who together invested more than $40 million in the future of the life sciences at Wooster. Designed from the ground up to support the mentored student research at the heart of a Wooster education, the new building is the largest capital project ever undertaken by the college. It is fully integrated on all four levels with the Severance Chemistry building to the north, and the combined facility is home to Wooster’s programs in biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, chemistry, environmental studies, and neuroscience. It is named in honor of the late Ruth Whitmore Williams, a Wooster alum and long-time member of the board of trustees who, along with her husband, A. Morris Williams, provided the lead gift that got fund-raising for the project off to a fast start in Oct. 2013.
As Saturday’s dinner drew toward a close, Wooster President Sarah Bolton summed up the real reason for celebrating: not the dollars raised, but the impact they will have.
“Wooster is an extraordinary college,” she declared, “because we invest so deeply in the promise of every student, meeting them where they are when they arrive and bringing them through a journey of learning and exploration, to a place where they can do work that’s never been done before. And in so doing, our students achieve their dreams, but they also do more than they had ever even imagined.
“With the Wooster’s Promise campaign, we re-invest in the historic promise Wooster has made for generations, and ensure it is realized – in the most powerful ways – for the future. That promise is powerful, not just while students are at Wooster, but over the course of their lives. And it enables Scots to make an outsize impact in the world, through the work they do, the lives they lead, and the people they are.”
The College of Wooster is America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research. Wooster offers an excellent, comprehensive liberal arts education, culminating in a rigorous senior project, in which each student works one-on-one with a faculty mentor to conceive, organize and complete a significant research project on a topic of the student’s own choosing. Through this distinctive program, every Wooster student develops abilities valued by employers and graduate schools alike: independent judgment, analytical ability, creativity, project-management and time-management skills, and strong written and oral communication skills. Founded in 1866, the college enrolls approximately 2,000 students.