College readies for major capital campaign

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A rendering of the soon to be built addition to the Dana and Hallowell dorms.

The college’s development office is preparing to widen the scope of its fundraising efforts by launching a new capital campaign in October of this year. The campaign is intended to finance the college’s “Strategic Directions” plan: the 10-year forecast for physical and curricular development at the college that was originally announced in December of 2011.

“The campaign will support almost every area of the college’s growth,” said Karl Clauss, the vice president for development and alumni relations at the college. “Financial aid will be a key component as well as high-impact learning, the Institute for the Liberal Arts, the expansion of faculty positions and bricks-and-mortar projects.”

The campaign will build on the roughly $75 million in alumni donations from Board of Managers Chair Gil Kemp ’72, Chair Emeritus Eugene Lang ’38 and Member James Lovelace ’79. The development office hopes that by announcing a capital campaign, the college can begin to engage a larger pool of donors.

“We hope to engage with donors at more modest levels,” said Donald Cooney, the college’s director of development. “Large gifts enable us to move forward on one particular initiative, but that should not underscore the impact of smaller gifts.”

According to an estimate by Al Bloom, the college’s president from 1991 to 2009, the capital campaign will need to raise around $400 million in order to implement the initiatives proposed in “Strategic Directions.” This is almost double the $245 million raised during the 2001 “The Meaning of Swarthmore” campaign, which was the college’s most financially successful capital campaign.

Although the college announced “Strategic Directions” in 2011, the inauguration of the capital campaign has been delayed to coincide with the college’s sesquicentennial.

“The alumni have to believe in the direction the institution is headed,” Clauss said. “They have to feel connected to Swarthmore in order to give. We hope that the sesquicentennial events can really engage folks.”

The sesquicentennial events reflect a larger aim of “Strategic Directions,” strengthening the college’s ties with the alumni community.

“We look to our alumni to engage with our community in creative ways and at deeper levels, both on campus and with each other in what is now a worldwide Swarthmore network,” said President Rebecca Chopp in her “Strategic Directions” address. “We have also heard the alumni express a desire for more forms of communication and networking with each other, as well as with the college.”

The development office and alumni relations office is working to intensify these connections. Staff have traveled to meet with those who have expressed an inclination to donate, and have been planning events ranging from faculty lectures and gallery visits to book clubs.

“When the campaign goes public, this will set off a series of events to launch the campaign, starting with Garnet Weekend,” Clauss said. “Then we plan to hit major metropolitan areas throughout the course of the next academic year.”

“We have an incredibly generous alumni community,” he said. “There is such a variety of things to support, and I’m excited to make these public to the college community.”

The alumni contributions to the capital campaign will fund a wide variety of initiatives at the college, ranging from physical development to the expansion of curricula on and off campus. For example, it will help provide the funds to construct new engineering and science facilities, renovate Clothier Hall, endow the Institute for the Liberal Arts and provide several million dollars in financial aid. Many of the proposals are geared towards accommodating the increasing size of the student body, including renovations to the Lamb-Miller Field House, Old Tarble and Sharples as well as the construction of new community spaces on campus. The plan also calls for increasing the size and diversity of faculty, in part to offset the ongoing reduction in faculty course load.

“We are going to increase the size of the student body over a 10-year period,” Cooney said. “That will have an impact on campus, and we will need to respond to that with campaign initiatives. Increasing demands must be met.”


  1. larger class sizes = “high-impact learning”. That’s pretty Orwellian. Why not raise funds to keep class sizes small?

  2. I’m unclear as to why this capital spending cannot be financed by the endowment but must be fundraised through additional gifts. Why can’t we deplete our endowment considering these investments will also benefit future generations of students?

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