“Investing in Student Success” campaign to raise $12 million for FSU

The University has raised over $8 million in its first seven-year fundraising campaign, “Investing in Student Success,” according to Eric Gustafson, executive director of Development and Alumni Relations.

As the campaign finishes its fourth year, the University has raised well over half of its $12 million goal, according to Gustafson.

The campaign was launched July 1, 2012 with a goal of $10 million, said Gustafson, “but because of strong response and interest in supporting the University, we increased it to $12 million.”

According to Gustafson, $4 million will go toward “current use need,” which includes student clubs and organizations, student services and athletics.

Another $4 million will go toward faculty and academic programs, which will include academic departments, faculty research and centers.

Two million dollars will go toward University facilities. Gustafson said the money is not intended for “building anything new, but to augment what we have.”

He said some gifts his office received under the facilities category during the campaign include the expansion of the Dining Hall and the renovation of the Special Collections room in the Whittemore Library.

One million dollars will go toward “permanently endowed funds,” which consist mostly of scholarships for students. The funds donated by alumni are invested permanently, and the interest from those investments is used to award scholarships, said Gustafson.

He added not all endowments are scholarships, but all are intended to benefit students. “We have one that was just started that’s actually for fashion design and retailing majors to help students who have need to purchase their materials.”

President F. Javier Cevallos said even if the University is “affordable,” it can still be “tough for students to come up with the money” to attend.

“Anything we can do to help will be better for everybody,” he added.

Gustafson said student scholarship support is popular among the donors. “I think donors really respond, alumni in particular, to the idea of helping students make Framingham State education more affordable.”

He added donors can pick which section of the University they would like to give to, and there are areas that have not been donated to yet.

One million dollars will go toward equipment and technology used by faculty, staff and students.

Robert Ramrath, vice president and chief information officer at Bose Co and the President of the Foundation Board, said in an email he is not surprised the campaign is ahead of its goals “given the commitment and quality of the people managing the campaign.”

He added, “I’m passionate about the mission of FSU and the role of public higher education in the Commonwealth. FSU provides affordable opportunities for high-quality education to many students who otherwise would have no other options. I’m so impressed with all the people I meet associated with this University. From the President, to the professors, to the development office, to the facilities department, all I see are motivated and passionate people doing a great job. It’s my privilege to be involved with such a great institution.”

The idea for the campaign came from the Board of Trustees, according to Gustafson. The board went public with the campaign at the 175th Anniversary Gala last fall.

He added an issue of the alumni magazine was devoted to the campaign, and that the board publicizes the campaign to alumni at “every conceivable opportunity.”

Cevallos said a lot of fundraising happens during “one-on-one” conversations with alumni.

“We try to meet with people informally to try to get to know alums that we have not connected with before, or with the alums that we have a good relationship with, to keep them updated with everything that is happening at the University.”

After the campaign is over, Gustafson said the board will focus on thanking its donors and showing how their investments have impacted the campus.

“Considering it’s the first time we’ve done this, it’s been a remarkable, positive response from our communities,” Gustafson said. “Across the board, people have been very interested and very supportive of Framingham State. It’s been wonderful to see how much they value Framingham State.”

Fundraising is now a “necessity,” said Cevallos. “States don’t have the resources to continue to fund everything at the levels that they need. It’s not that the state doesn’t want to help – Massachusetts has been very generous to education. There are so many other competing needs that everything has to get distributed. So there is less money, and we have to find other resources.”

Another fundraising campaign can be expected in the future, according to Gustafson.

SGA President Dan Costello said, “It’s really great the University has this campaign going on because it allows us to expand our opportunities to our students.”

Sophomore Dylan Korzeniowski said the campaign is “pretty impressive” and “beneficial.”

He added, “Those scholarships could go to people who have the talent and smarts but couldn’t otherwise afford college.”

Cameron Grieves, a sophomore, said, “If the goal is to make education affordable for more people, then I think any effort made is a good effort.”

Sophmore Dana Lobad said she wished the University had advertised this campaign more because “I hadn’t heard anything about this and it’s already been going on for four years.”

She added if the money is really going toward scholarships, that’s “great. A lot of people miss the opportunity to get their education due to their financial status and I think that making scholarships easier to get is such an important thing.”

Cevallos said, “A lot of people look at philanthropy as an investment. It is an investment in the future. It’s not investing in yourself, or investing in your own wealth – it’s sharing your wealth with the future generations.”

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