Summer 1997

University Relations Highlights

By John L. Heyl.

The Office of University Relations performs a multitude of services for WPI, but they boil down to three basic responsibilities: raising resources to help the University fulfill its mission of educating tomorrow's leaders; building the image and enhancing the reputation of the University; and helping alumni stay in touch with and connected to their alma mater. During the 1996-97 fiscal year, the office made progress on all of three fronts.

In resource generation, WPI had a successful year, recording some $7 million in gifts of cash and gifts-in-kind and over $4.2 million in new pledges from individuals, corporations, foundations, friends and others. Our annual giving program raised more than $1.45 million in funds that can be immediately spent to help WPI meet the expenses associated with providing a high-quality education to its students. More than $1.2 million of that total came from alumni (a new record), which was part of the $2.6 million (including corporate matching gifts) raised last year through the Alumni Fund. The Alumni Fund Board, chaired by Anne M. McPartland Dodd '75, and the annual giving staff are to be commended for making it all happen.

Other highlights of the annual giving program include the $10,000 raised by the Class of 1997 through the Senior Class Gift Program—the first such program organized in several years - and the significant progress made in setting up the Class Agent Program. That program is aimed at increasing participation in the Alumni Fund by having alumni receive solicitations from their classmates.

The President's Advisory Council celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. The organization, made up of alumni, parents and friends who make gifts to WPI of $1,500 or more, was founded by trustee emeritus Leonard H. White '41. Henry W. Nowick '56 completed a long and productive term as PAC chairman in 1996-97. Bringing things full circle, David H. White '75, Len's son, has become the new chairman. The PAC celebrated its anniversary by hosting a number of Presidential Forums - including events in Newport Beach and Santa Clara, Calif. - focused on WPI's Global Perspective Program.

An expanded marketing program resulted in a significant increase in interest in the various deferred giving vehicles WPI makes available to potential donors. These vehicles enable individuals to realize a financial return from their gifts during their lifetime. Over the course of the fiscal year, WPI received 56 deferred gifts totaling more than $1.7 million. Another highlight of the year was recorded by the Anniversary Gift Program. At Reunion in June 1997, the Class of 1957 presented President Parrish with a check for $2.3 million, an exciting new record for class gifts. The Class of 1947 raised more than $203,000.

WPI's efforts to raise its visibility yielded a great deal of coverage in local, regional, national and international media (including The New York Times, USA Today, the Moscow Times, the Caribbean Business News and New Zealand Television). One of the biggest splashes was made by three students who identified a security hole in Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer Web browser (see "A Shortcut Into Computer History," Summer 1997 Journal). Their discovery resulted in worldwide coverage.

A documentary featuring WPI's state-of-the-art fire science laboratory, originally broadcast in July 1996, proved to be one of the most watched programs in the history of the Discovery Channel. Check your local television listings this winter for a Discovery Channel program featuring a student project that resulted in a high-tech safety system for the Providence & Worcester Railroad and a two-hour History Channel documentary on fire featuring our fire protection engineering program.

The WPI Alumni Association, in an effort to assure that the association and WPI's Alumni Affairs Office will be prepared to serve the needs of WPI graduates well into the next century, began work on a new five-year master plan. Under the leadership of Robert E. Maynard Jr. '63, the association's Executive Committee developed a draft plan and appointed four task forces to address issues the committee believes are of particular importance to the association's future:

The year ahead promises to be an exciting one. Most important, the University will prepare to formally launch its next major capital campaign, which will provide the resourses WPI needs to implement its emerging strategic vision for the future.

During the past fiscal year, board vice chairman Ronald L. Zarrella '71, vice president and group executive for General Motors Corp., agreed to serve as chairman of the Campaign for WPI. As chairman of the WPI Board of Trustees, John M. Nelson, chairman of The TJX Companies Inc., began visiting members of the board to request their participation in the drive.

Work also continued within University Relations on putting in place the necessary volunteer and administrative infrastructure for a major fund-raising effort. If all goes as planned, the campaign will begin in the fall of 1998.

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Last Modified: Thu June 10 11:48:57 EDT 1999