The Wire @ WPI Online
VOLUME 12, NO. 3     MAY 1999

Crossing the Threshold

WPI launched the public phase of the $150 million Campaign for WPI, the most ambitious and comprehensive fund-raising initiative in the University's history, during three gala events in April. Set to conclude on June 30, 2003, the campaign is aimed at raising WPI to new levels of quality and prestige and at helping build it a national reputation. More than $72 million was committed during the prelaunch phase-more than was raised in any previous WPI campaign.

According to campaign chairman Ronald L. Zarrella '71, executive vice president at General Motors and president of GM North America, The Campaign for WPI will make targeted investments in people, programs, partnerships and physical plant. "It will be driven by a new vision of WPI as a world leader among technological universities; an institution that is uniquely small and personal; a university where traditional lines between academic departments are blurred and where collaboration in learning is the norm rather than the exception."

Marion and Spiro Vrusho '57 chat with Global Ambassadors Anna Matzal '99 and Ralph Tillinghast '01 at a campaign reception in Harrington.

Zarrella made the first public announcement of the campaign and its goal during a black-tie dinner at Worcester's historic Mechanics Hall on April 23 (photo this page). The evening included performances by several of WPI's instrumental and choral groups and three video presentations that depicted the University's past, present and future. The following day, the campaign was announced to faculty, staff and students and to area alumni in separate events in Harrington Auditorium, which was transformed into a showcase for WPI's global education program. Asian, South American and North American gardens, screens displaying photographs from the four corners of the globe, and a "global stage" where student musical and dance groups performed surrounded guests at a campus lunch and at an evening cocktail reception.

The Boston Chinese Folk and Classical Dance Troupe was one of several international groups that performed for guests at the reception.

Of the $150 million to be raised during the campaign, $54 million will fund new endowed professorships, scholarships and fellowships, $30 million will be used to build a campus center and a new academic building, $16 million will endow new program funds and physical plant maintenance, $18 million will support physical plant renovations (including renovations to Gordon Library) and equipment purchases, $9 million will provide working capital for new initiatives, $2 million will support an image-building program for the University, and $11 million will be in the form of unrestricted endowment.

An additional $10 million will be raised through contributions to the Annual Fund from alumni, parents and friends. To reach this ambitious goal, annual contributions to the fund must grow from $1.5 million to more than $2 million. Toward that end, all alumni and parents and most of the University's friends will be asked to participate in the Annual Fund, even if they also make separate gifts toward the campaign's endowment or capital goals. To support this comprehensive approach, WPI has created a new class-based volunteer structure centered around each class's Reunion schedule.

The campaign investment will support six overarching goals:

Harrington Auditorium was transformed into a global village for a campus luncheon celebrating the campaign launch.

WPI President Edward Alton Parrish noted that the campaign objectives were built upon the foundation of two years of strategic planning by the entire WPI community. The planning process was driven by the realization that the University has a narrow window of opportunity to capitalize on the recognition it has been receiving for its pioneering approach to technological education.

"Academia, government and industry have been working for several years to remake technological higher education," he said. "In recommendations from organizations like the National Research Council, the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Science Foundation, and in a sweeping new set of accreditation criteria for the nation's engineering programs, one can find a common set of ideas that are in remarkable harmony with the outcomes of our own time-tested educational model. We have a tremendous opportunity to forge a true national reputation and cement our position as one of the nation's best universities."

"These are truly exciting times," Zarrella said. "WPI stands on the threshold of a new era. The opportunities before us are remarkable, but we must seize them-and now, rather than later. That's what The Campaign for WPI is all about."

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Last modified: Tue June 22 09:59:40 EDT 1999