Tag: endowment

Be the Light! closes at $232.6M, adding strength, support for decades to come

Renewal of the Lawrence campus has been a big piece of the Be the Light! Campaign.

Story by Ed Berthiaume / Communications

Lawrence University raised $232.6 million in its seven-year Be the Light! Campaign, surpassing the $220 million goal and strengthening the school in myriad ways going forward.

The final tally was unveiled Thursday night at a virtual We Are the Light! campaign-closing event that drew an audience of Lawrentians from all over the world. It was a significant moment in the 174-year history of the private liberal arts college, and it comes in the midst of a pandemic that has tested the resolve and financial fluidity of colleges and universities across the country.

“What is most heartening about the Be the Light! Campaign is the alignment of donor interests and University need,” President Mark Burstein said of the generosity of alumni and other supporters. “The Lawrence community fundamentally cares about this place, the education we provide and the students we serve.”

This wasn’t a campaign to build a new building or expand the campus’ physical footprint. Rather, it was about the renewal of existing facilities, about strengthening and expanding academic offerings, about enhancing the student experience, and about providing scholarship resources to lower student debt and open new avenues for all academically qualified students to be able to attend Lawrence.

“This campaign has touched every aspect of the Lawrence experience,” Burstein said. “Scholarship, internships, religious and spiritual life, endowed faculty chairs, bricks and mortar projects, athletics, Bjorklunden. It’s just really touched every aspect of who we are and what we can offer to students.”

Flash back to 2014, when a $25 million matching grant from an anonymous donor (it would later grow to $30 million) kindled the possibilities to come. Earmarked for the newly launched Full Speed to Full Need scholarship initiative, the grant was matched by donors in less than 16 months, kickstarting the “quiet” phase of the Be the Light! Campaign.

Then, as Lawrence leadership prepared to go public with the campaign, the boldest fund-raising effort in the school’s history, outside voices urged them to pump the brakes a bit for fear that any goal beyond $200 million would be an invitation to failure. Burstein huddled with campaign tri-chairs David Blowers ’82, Cory Nettles ’92, and Charlot Nelson Singleton ’67, and Vice President for Alumni and Development Cal Husmann. With confidence in the vision of a transformed university, they opted to dream big.

“We were afraid if we set the goal too low it wouldn’t raise the aspirations of the Lawrence community,” Burstein said. “We knew that every dollar would have a direct impact on our students and the quality of the education we offer.”

They settled on a goal of $220 million as the campaign went public in late 2018. It was an audacious undertaking, designed to grow the endowment and support scholarship in ways that would sustain the school’s academic mission for decades to come, even as higher education braces for a multitude of challenges.

“I think we all decided to take the leap of faith together,” Burstein said.

“Exceeding our expectations”

Today’s students and those in generations to come have been at the heart of the Be the Light! Campaign. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

On Thursday night, the fruits of that faith were revealed and celebrated.

More than $91 million was raised for Full Speed to Full Need, providing endowed scholarships that help bridge the difference between a student’s financial aid and their demonstrated need. Burstein called that a core piece of the Be the Light! Campaign, one that drew an enthusiastic response from donors as contributions pushed past the initial goal of $85 million.

“This idea of supporting each of our students and their families to the level that methodology says we should, that just resonated in a way far exceeding our expectations,” Burstein said.

The results are already evident. The Full Speed to Full Need contributions have led to a decrease in the average student debt for graduating seniors each of the past four years, dropping from a high of $34,573 in 2016 to last year’s $29,118. That decline in debt for Lawrence graduates comes as reports show student loan debt trends continuing to rise across the country.

The campaign drew another $31 million to support the college’s day-to-day operations through the Lawrence Fund.

Nearly $26 million was raised for campus renewal, including renovations to Kohler Hall, Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Warch Campus Center, Ormsby Hall, Mudd Library, Brokaw Hall, Banta Bowl, and Alexander Gymnasium, among others. Classrooms are being upgraded in Youngchild and Briggs halls. Landscaping was or will be replaced in multiple spaces across campus. And the Net-Zero Bjorklunden Initiative has been launched, which will eliminate the generation of greenhouse gases from the Door County campus.

The campaign also has delivered five new endowed professorships, strengthening academic disciplines across campus. The Esch Hurvis Center for Spiritual and Religious Life was created.  An investment of $5 million has revamped and invigorated the Career Center, a major push following a 2018 Life After Lawrence study.

Upgrades on numerous facilities, including the Banta Bowl, have been possible courtesy of the Be the Light! Campaign.

The breadth of the investments is what stands out, making “a profound impact on almost every aspect of the Lawrence experience,” said Blowers, who serves as chair of the Board of Trustees as well as a tri-chair on the campaign. He applauded the vision and the work that went into making it happen.

“It has been such a privilege for me to be involved with our development staff, our tireless volunteer leadership, and President Burstein to mount the most successful campaign to date in Lawrence’s history,” he said. 

Burstein, who announced last summer that he would step away from Lawrence following this academic year, said the ebb and flow of the campaign has been amazing to watch. It was launched a little more than a year after his arrival as Lawrence’s 16th president.

“You start out with the prospectus, but that was seven years ago,” Burstein said. “That intervening time has allowed us to refine the needs and interests. Some things have stayed constant, like Full Speed to Full Need. But the Life After Lawrence Task Force, for example, defined the way forward for career services. That happened after the campaign launched. … Even the things we added, like Spiritual and Religious Life or the investments in the Career Center or going carbon neutral at Bjorklunden, all those move central aspects of the University forward.”

Campaign contributions came from more than 16,000 donors, including nearly 9,000 alumni. While large, multi-million-dollar donations drew the headlines and were critically important, nearly 70% of the gifts came in at $100 or less. For more than 4,000 of the donors, it marked the first time they had given to Lawrence.

Singleton, one of the tri-chairs providing leadership throughout the campaign, called the response from alumni, faculty, staff, and other supporters “historic and transformational,” and said all Lawrentians should take pride in what they have collectively accomplished.

“The results of the campaign are already at work as we provide scholarships, create new professorships, develop our co-curricular options, and see our campus being renewed,” she said. “Hats off to each of you who have so faithfully contributed to the success of the Be the Light! Campaign.”

Nettles, also a tri-chair of the campaign, said the investment in student support alone will bolster generations of Lawrentians.

“By every measure, the campaign was a success and exceeded our expectations,” he said.

Meeting an unexpected challenge

The COVID-19 pandemic was nowhere in sight when the Be the Light! Campaign launched. But as he prepared to unveil the final tally on Thursday, Burstein said he couldn’t help but look at the campaign results through the lens of what has transpired over the past year – a Spring Term fully remote; Fall and Winter terms in hybrid mode; students, faculty, and staff striving to maintain the high quality of a Lawrence education through never-before-seen obstacles.

Campaign investments have done more than provide financial flexibility during what Burstein called “a 100-year crisis.” The contributions funded numerous enhancements that have proven to be invaluable as the campus has navigated the pandemic — improvements in air quality in buildings across campus; the Spiritual and Religious Life leadership team that has been key in caring for students isolating or quarantining in Kohler Hall; the growth of the Career Center that has worked closely with new and soon-to-be graduates seeking employment amid economic upheaval.

The architects of the campaign envisioned investments that would prepare Lawrence for the known and the unknown, for the short term and the long term. The pandemic put that to the test even before the campaign concluded. 

“Just so much gratitude,” Burstein said. “The campaign is so hard for me to separate from this past year in the pandemic, how central the investments have been in sustaining this institution and student learning.

“This is what it means to strengthen an institution; it strengthens it for the challenges that come.”

Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: ed.c.berthiaume@lawrence.edu

Lawrence receives additional $5 million challenge for scholarship endowment

$5M-gift_newsblogOn the heels of successfully completing a $25 million challenge match, Lawrence University has been presented another opportunity to boost its student scholarship support.

An additional $5 million commitment by the same anonymous donor who issued the $25 million challenge a year ago, has been pledged on the condition Lawrence makes every effort to raise $10 million in matching funds by December 31, 2016.

Both the gift and the matching funds would be applied to an endowment for student scholarships that currently stands at $51.9 million.

Charlot Singleton, who serves as chair of the Board of Trustees’ development committee says this newest commitment is “significant.”

Char Singleton_newsblog“Such generosity will allow us to recommit ourselves to the founding principle of educational access for all capable students,” said Singleton, a 1967 Lawrence graduate. “We can be proud of becoming the kind of institution that places that highest priority on ensuring a Lawrence education that remains affordable to all students.”

Two weeks ago, Lawrence announced it had raised nearly $27 million in just 15 months toward the original matching gift during its “Full Speed to Full Need” initiative. The latest challenge, when successfully completed, will add another $15 million toward the ultimate goal of creating a scholarship endowment of $75 million, a total that will make Lawrence a full-need institution.

“The impact of the gifts to the Full Speed to Full Need campaign is already making a huge difference in the lives of many Lawrence students,” said Hugh Denison, a 1968 Lawrence graduate who serves as chair of the FSFN initiative. “Our ultimate goal is to see that every student has the comfort of knowing that funds will be available for them to finish their education here. While we have had spectacular success in our efforts toward that goal, there is still much work to be done. I would urge every graduate of the college to consider a gift to this vital mission.Hugh-Denison_newsblog_2

“Our success in completing this campaign will insure that Lawrence remains among the national leaders of liberal arts colleges,” Denison added.

As a full-need institution, Lawrence will be able to provide financial assistance to make up any difference between what a family can contribute and what federal and state programs provide toward the comprehensive fee.

“When we are successful with this phase of the campaign,” said Ken Anselment, dean of admissions and financial aid, “we will be able to support all Lawrentians at a level that allows them to take full advantage of the Lawrence experience.

“This campaign will put Lawrence on the short list of colleges in the country that meet the full need of all their students,” Anselment added.  

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.         


Matching Gifts to Lawrence University’s Scholarship Endowment Top $11M

The response to Lawrence University’s announcement of a $25 million matching gift from an anonymous donor for student scholarships has been overwhelming.

Mark Bernstein_match gift_newwblog
President Mark Burstein

Since announcing the largest gift in Lawrence history on Sept. 17, the university has received $11.4 million in matching gifts and pledges, more than 45 percent of the full match amount.

When fully matched, an additional $50 million will be added to Lawrence’s endowment earmarked exclusively for student scholarship support.

More than 260 donors have contributed to the scholarship matching effort to date with gifts ranging from $20 to $5 million. Underscoring the broad appeal of the match, more than half (54 percent) of the matching gifts have been for less than $250, with more than 100 of those for less than $100.

The scholarship endowment will be used for students with demonstrated financial need.

“It is inspiring to see this outpouring of generosity from the Lawrence community and know each dollar will support a student on this campus,” said President Mark Burstein. “The need-based scholarships generated by this endowment will greatly enhance our efforts to make a Lawrence education affordable to families across the socioeconomic spectrum. The funds raised so far will support over 75 Lawrence students forever.”

Hugh Denison ’68

Hugh Denison, a 1968 Lawrence graduate, who has committed $1 million to the matching gift effort, said the decision he and his wife, Mary, made to do so, “is one of the best we’ve ever made. We will enjoy seeing the results of that decision for years to come.”

“While it’s perfectly appropriate to categorize this as a gift to Lawrence, we actually view it more as an investment in the next generation of students who will have the same opportunity for the world-class education that I received,” said Denison, former senior vice president, research director and portfolio manager at Heartland Advisors, Inc., a Milwaukee-based investment firm.

“My wife and I were blessed with families who could pay for our educations when we attended college, but we know that is becoming a rarity these days,” Denison added.  “We’re gratified to be able to make a difference and provide scholarship assistance to many students who might otherwise be unable to afford the great education Lawrence provides.”

Cara Helmke ’00

Cara Helmke, a 2000 Lawrence graduate, called Lawrence’s new scholarship endowment “the gift that keeps on giving.”

“The day I heard the news, I knew I wanted to contribute,” said Helmke, a Wisconsin native now living in Clovis, Calif., and working as a hospital billing analyst. “It feels good to give to Lawrence. It feels even better to have those dollars matched again and support students in perpetuity. With less stress over financial obligations, students can focus on academic and extracurricular activities or other life-changing experiences.

“Whether large or small, each contribution gets the university closer to the $50 million goal,” Helmke added. “Collectively, we can provide a world of opportunity for future generations of Lawrence students.”

Professor Claudena Skran

Support for the scholarship effort extends beyond the ranks of Lawrence alumni to include current faculty. Claudena Skran, Edwin and Ruth West Professor of Economics and Social Science and professor of government, along with her husband, David Duncombe, have made a $100,000 commitment to create a scholarship targeting international students.

“Lawrence has a great tradition of educating students from abroad and we would like this tradition to continue,” said Skran, a specialist in international relations and refugee issues who joined the Lawrence faculty in 1990. “Students who attend Lawrence form a community that extends in time beyond their four years here and in scope beyond the Appleton campus. Many international students have shared how much attending Lawrence has changed their perspective of the world and of themselves.

According to Skran, supporting the scholarship effort pays dividends to more than just the student recipients.

“Beyond the students who receive the scholarships” said Skran, “others at Lawrence – students, faculty and staff members – benefit as well if the scholarships help make our campus more globally diverse.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.


Lawrence University Endowment Earns 16.2 Percent During 2013-14 Fiscal Year

A robust 16.2 percent return on investment helped boost Lawrence University’s endowment to an institutional-record high of $249.5 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014 according to recently released audited financial statements.

Lawrence’s endowment helps support one of the country’s lowest student-faculty ratios.

Last year’s return was more than 4 percentage points higher than both the return for the 2012-13 fiscal year (11.9 percent) and Lawrence’s five-year average return of 12 percent. The endowment stood at $212.4 million on June 30, 2013.

“Our return on investment reflects a strong market performance and a great portfolio balance designed by our investment committee and advisors,” said Christopher Lee, vice president for finance and administration.

Lawrence’s endowment helps to fund operations critical to the university’s educational mission, including academic programs and student financial aid programs that enable Lawrence to remain affordable and accessible to all qualified admitted students. Distributions from Lawrence’s endowment supported 17 percent of the university’s operating costs in the last fiscal year.

“The cost of a high-quality education is often at odds with the affordability of that education,” said Lee. “Lawrence’s engaged learning experience requires a diverse and highly qualified faculty. Our 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio ensures that students get the attention and expertise they need to prepare for well-rounded lives and careers. This is not an inexpensive undertaking.”

The cost basis of a Lawrence education for the 2013-14 academic year was approximately $41,000 per student.

“Through the generosity of our donors, the returns on our investments, grants and other revenues, our students paid an average of $27,000, 35 percent less than actual costs,” said Lee. “We are committed to sustaining the high quality of the Lawrence experience while continuing to seek funding that reduces the burden of that cost on our students and their families.”

Last month, Lawrence announced a school-record $25 million anonymous gift to establish an endowed scholarship. As a matching gift, it will eventually add $50 million to Lawrence’s endowment and provide for the financial need of at least 50 students each year in perpetuity.

For the current academic year, Lawrence provided $33.4 million in institutional financial aid. Ninety-six percent of Lawrence students are receiving need and/or merit based financial aid for the 2014-15 academic year. Twenty-two percent of Lawrence students are currently receiving federal Pell Grants, which are awarded to undergraduates from low-income families with the highest need.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.