Having a successful fundraising campaign in the rearview mirror should feel great. One of a college president’s most important and visible tasks, leading a capital campaign can be exhausting, even stressful. To have concluded the Live Connected, Lead Change Campaign well above our $400 million goal should be a source of relief and celebration.
Except … the campaign was not only a lot of work, it was a lot of fun! On the work side of the balance sheet, there were busy weeks of travel, long days with back-to-back meetings and events, and the challenge of formulating compelling ideas about how to align the needs of the College and the interests of donors.
On the fun side: Watching Lafayette supporters fill the Hall of Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History at the campaign kickoff; joining tens of thousands of Leopard fans at the next day’s 150th Rivalry game at Yankee Stadium; standing on the deck of Hermione, a re-creation of one of Lafayette’s ships, in the company of a descendant of the Marquis; attending a Chicago alumni event at Wrigley Field with Joe Maddon ’76, not to mention judging a chili contest for the Lafayette alumni chapter in Dallas, Texas; hosting an event at Sarasota’s Selby Gardens with its CEO, a member of the Class of 1995; dropping in on the headquarters of Vineyard Vines to visit with its founder and other alumni; sampling some terrific California wines at a dinner with Bay Area friends of the College.
Beyond these group events, I had the privilege of getting to know some of the College’s most dedicated alumni and friends—supporters of all ages, from a wide range of backgrounds, with the ability to make, in some cases, large gifts, in others, modest donations. What they shared was great enthusiasm for being part of conversations about Lafayette’s past, present, and hoped-for future. I was inspired by their genuine interest in understanding where we are heading and why. Articulating the value of the education we offer and the importance of making it as accessible as possible helped strengthen my own conviction that Lafayette is on the path to an even brighter future.
When I talk about the campaign, people sometimes ask whether I find it difficult to ask for money. To be honest, it is much easier than I expected. When I ask someone who loves Lafayette to support the College to whatever degree they are able, I am inviting them to be part of something larger than either of us. In my experience, when we have partnered successfully in creating a gift that is meaningful to the donor and important to the College, we both feel like winners.
The good news is, while the Live Connected, Lead Change Campaign has come to a close, the energy and excitement it generated, the relationships it built, and the ambition it inspired will continue. I am deeply grateful to every member of the Lafayette community for your support, and I look forward to the next phase of our journey together.