River Falls, WI, March 6, 2014 -UW-River Falls' Rising to Distinction comprehensive fundraising campaign, launched on July 1, 2011, is just halfway through its five-year time span, but the University's supporters have already provided 70% of the $20 million goal to be raised by June 30, 2016.
Campaign Chair Bill Boehm recently thanked dozens of donors at a series of events held around the Twin Cities, stating, "We're here to celebrate with you the meaningful progress we've made on our quest to enhance the educational experience at UWRF. The progress so far has been tremendous and is having real impact for UWRF and its students," said Mr. Boehm, a 1970 UWRF graduate, Distinguished Alumnus, and retired Sr. Vice President of The Kroger Company.
The campaign's impact is summarized in the words of Alec Fournier, a UWRF freshman from Annandale, MN who received a prestigious Chancellor's Scholar award and spoke at one of the events held in Minneapolis, "This financial support is important because it means I can focus more on my coursework and getting involved on campus, instead of working 20 or 30 hours a week to pay for my tuition. I want the donors to remember, though, that it is also a very important acknowledgement. All the hard work I put in to be a successful student has been recognized and rewarded."
Mr. Boehm reported that, as of December 31, 2013, donors had already pledged $14.1 million to the UWRF Foundation for the campaign, of which 63%, or $8.8 million, have been upfront cash contributions. "As chair, I simply want to say thank you for what you have done and are doing to make this campaign a success!"
Campaign donations comprise all gifts for any purpose made to the University during the five years of the campaign period. However, strategic fundraising efforts are underway to support projects specifically aligned with the goals of the University's strategic plan, Pathway to Distinction.
A few key examples include:
Objective: raise $3.5 million to support needed improvements in facilities housing the department of health and human performance, student recreation and athletics.
o Progress: The new $63.5 million Falcon Center will break ground in the spring. $1.6 million of the $2 million needed in private funding has already been contributed by alumni and friends of the University. The project was approved by the Wisconsin State Building Commission in October 2013. The project includes facilities honouring UWRF icons like the Don Page Arena, Rick Bowen Court and Emogene Nelson Classroom.
o $1.6 million has been raised of the $1.9 million needed to renovate the David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field. No state funds are part of this project, which will be 100% funded by private gifts and student fee support. Contributions include a contribution by the School District of River Falls, which shares usage of the facility for its high school football team. Field improvements and construction of a new press box are scheduled to begin in summer 2014 and will be completed in 2015.
Objective: to better align with demand for skilled graduates ready to work in the region's growing dairy processing industry, update the 30-year old UWRF Dairy Pilot Plant.
o Progress: with a lead gift from the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, an industry led fundraising campaign was started. The project will be funded with $500,000 in state and institutional support, plus $3 million in private gifts. The UWRF Foundation has already raised $1 million in only 5 months with lead gifts from some major industry partners including Grassland Dairy, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Foremost Farms, Welcome Dairy, Loos Machine, and Mullins Cheese.
Objective: leverage close to $8 million specifically targeted to student support.
o Progress: Total scholarship awards have increased by almost 40% since the campaign started in 2011. One of the university's strategic goals is to reach $1.1 million in scholarship awards by 2017. "The impact on students, the reason we raise money in the first place, has been tremendous," said Mr. Boehm. This year, 620 students (or 10% of the student body) received a scholarship from the Foundation. The UWRF Foundation awarded $777,000 in scholarships – the third highest total among UW System comprehensive universities even though UWRF is the third-smallest campus.
Objective: raise $800,000 to support the first four years of the innovative Falcon Scholars program which provides tuition support along with a student-supported stipend for study abroad or undergraduate research.
o Progress: Thanks to the $400,000 challenge donation made by alumni Marilyn and Arlin Albrecht, to date a total of $667,630 has been pledged. In the words of Carissa Jahnz, Falcon Scholar and a freshman from Pine City, MN, "I am so grateful for this support and I really look forward to going abroad on the Wisconsin in Scotland program with the funds provided. That is something I would not otherwise be able to do!"