Austin College announced the public kickoff of a $125 million fundraising campaign Saturday morning in an effort to enhance the school’s facilities, scholarship offerings and endowment.
AC President Steven P. O’Day outlined the goals of the POWER Austin College campaign at the Wright Campus Center before a crowd of students, staff and alumni — many of whom were on hand to celebrate the college’s homecoming weekend. The campaign has remained in a “quiet phase” for the past three years, O’Day said, but has already reached 75 percent of its goal.
“It’s a historic day for the college actually,” O’Day said. “This is the largest campaign that the college has ever undertaken. It’s at a point where we have such momentum, optimism, enthusiasm and energy on our campus that this just feels like the exact, right moment to embark on this.”
O’Day said the 2017-2018 fiscal year was Austin College’s most successful ever in terms of fundraising, with $31 million collected. Contributions made under the POWER campaign include a $1 million gift for renovations to Wynne Chapel, a $4 million donation in support of STEM education and a $9 million gift to fund four chair positions in the college’s social science, physical science and humanities departments, as well as AC’s Center for Research, Experiential and Transformative Education. O’Day credited last year’s fundraising success on concerted efforts to raise the school’s public profile and said the three target areas of the campaign showed donors that Austin College was well aware of its responsibilities as an academic institution.
“Some of our facilities are due for a refresh — it’s the nature of colleges and universities today that you have to address that,” O’Day said. “When you grow the endowment, you’re positioning and stabilizing the college for success in the future, in perpetuity. And we have to do what we can to make sure that a college education remains accessible and affordable.”
AC Senior and Student Body President Clarissa Caballero attended the announcement event Saturday and said she was glad to see the school use its campaign to invest in students. Caballero said the affordability of her education — made so by scholarships and grants — was crucial to her pursuit of a college degree.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for scholarships,” Caballero said. “And I know that there are a lot of other students who also wouldn’t be here without scholarships, either.”
Caballero said she plans to pursue her master’s degree after earning her bachelor’s next spring and that she’ll be on campus until at least 2020. Though her departure will likely precede the estimated three to five year completion of the POWER projects, Caballero said she would return as a proud alumna to see the changes.
“It’s definitely a place that I’m going to be coming back to,” Caballero said. “So I know that I eventually will be able to see the fruits of everything that is happening now and that’ll be good to see.”
O’Day expressed optimism that the POWER campaign would achieve it’s financial goal before long, but said each and every donation, no matter the size, would be well-earned.
“I’m confident that we’ll get there, but we’ll still work hard to do it,” O’Day said.