May 31, 2012

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Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) today will launch the largest capital fundraising campaign in its history, intending to raise $200 million by 2015, WPI's sesquicentennial year. Entitled "if…The Campaign to Advance WPI," the fundraising effort will fuel WPI’s strategic initiatives in three key areas: student financial assistance; faculty and academic program support; and campus facility development.

"For nearly 150 years, WPI has provided a distinctive type of education, based on a strong command of the theory and practice of engineering and science, and complemented by rich experiences in the arts and humanities," said WPI President and CEO Dennis Berkey. "Increasingly recognized as an ideal model for high-value, effective education, WPI's curriculum and educational philosophy have inspired similar developments at numerous other colleges and universities. Our ethos of collaboration and our focus on important challenges and opportunities, in both education and research, provide invaluable, sustaining momentum, and now we have an important opportunity to add to that momentum.

"During the eight years of my tenure as president, WPI has made significant investments in our faculty, our academic and research programs, and our campus facilities," Berkey said. "Much of this has been funded by our generous donors, including individuals, foundations, and corporations. Our graduates are in high demand by employers, and they gain admission to leading graduate and professional programs. Students have enrolled in record numbers, and our faculty are increasingly recognized for leadership in their fields. As we approach our sesquicentennial, we must continue to ensure excellence in all aspects of the WPI experience, as well as providing access and support for those exceptionally capable students in need of assistance with the cost of a WPI education. Thus this important, and we think compelling, opportunity for donors to invest in a worthy and important institution."

In total, 37.5 percent of the revenues from "if…The Campaign to Advance WPI," or about $75 million, will directly benefit students through scholarships and financial aid. Other focus areas include faculty and academic support ($50 million), improving campus life and academic facilities ($55 million), and contributions to unrestricted support ($20 million).

The university's Board of Trustees approved the fundraising effort in 2008. More than $112 million has already been raised during an initial leadership phase; the gifts to date reflect the diversity of those committed to WPI. During this time, 25 gifts of $1 million or more have been received. Nearly $55 million has been raised from alumni; $43 million has come from foundations, corporations, and other organizations; and $14 million has been committed by parents and friends. The age of the donors is also varied; about a quarter of all contributors during the leadership phase graduated in this century, while about half earned their degrees in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. 

Three annual giving challenges by alumni and friends helped maximize the revenues raised during the leadership phase. The Faculty and Staff Challenge was established by two anonymous WPI trustees who match, dollar for dollar, annual gifts from faculty and staff, with the match directed toward a scholarship fund for deserving WPI students. The Senior Gift Challenge, established by Trustee Emeritus Win Priem '59, has inspired every senior class since 2003 to raise money for a legacy gift to WPI by matching the dollars raised. The Dolan Young Alumni Challenge was established by Trustee Mike Dolan '75, senior vice president of ExxonMobil and National Campaign Chair. Dolan has pledged to match, dollar for dollar, the gifts of recent alumni, thereby ensuring future students receive the same level of academic excellence as recent alumni.