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Campus Fundraising Goal Achieved

02/06/2011 

One-hundred-ninety-five faculty, staff and emeriti opened their hearts and their checkbooks by the end of last fall, pledging or donating a record $214,525 to the annual Faculty and Staff Campaign for The Cortland Fund.

By Dec. 31, fully 20 percent of the campus community had participated in the special fund drive aimed at helping the College fulfill educational goals in an era of dwindling state resources, said Jennifer Janes, who directs The Cortland Fund.

“The results of this campaign are very exciting,” Janes said. “The investment our faculty and staff have made in the College is a vote of confidence in the mission and vision of SUNY Cortland. Their gifts will make a difference in our future.”

With a 20 percent participation rate, SUNY Cortland moves to second highest among SUNY four-year liberal arts colleges, Janes said. Additionally, the size of the total gifts is more than 51 percent greater than in the last year’s campaign.

Thirty-one of these donors made their first gift ever this fall, said Raymond Franco, vice president for institutional advancement. In the last two-and-a-half years, faculty, staff and retired employees have given a total of $800,000.

In honor of their generosity and on behalf of the Cortland College Foundation, SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum and his wife, Ms. Ellen Howard Burton, hosted a Faculty and Staff Donor Appreciation Reception on Feb. 17 in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.

“How proud we are as a College of our community’s philanthropic spirit,” said President Erik J. Bitterbaum. “We are most grateful for the generosity of our own campus community in supporting the goals of our students and enriching the programs and services that will help them to succeed in their academic careers.”                 

Susan Wilson
Susan Wilson, who participated as a donor in the recent Faculty and Staff Campaign for the Cortland Fund, moves an adapted recreational chair her students use to learn about the field of adapted recreation.

Gifts were made both in the form of unrestricted gifts and ones directed to help a particular scholarship, equipment purchase, organization, program or department. Previously, employees had been encouraged to make their gifts unrestricted. That was one of several unique aspects of this fund drive.

Another was that the President’s Council and two Cortland College Foundation Board members pledged to match new and increased employee gifts made by Dec. 31 with up to $203,000 over the next five years. Foundation board chair Brian Murphy ’83 and immediate past chair Victor Rumore ’84 made their pledge with the entire President’s Council in an effort to increase the percentage of faculty and staff participation in annual giving from 13.2 percent to the goal of 20 percent, which was successfully achieved.

“We’ve always felt it was critically important for us to continue to have faculty and staff support for the campaign and the campaign initiatives,” Murphy observed.

With its matching gift component, the Foundation Board made a thoughtful effort to try to create as much motivation and support as possible for the contributors to be philanthropic, he said.

“They surpassed our expectations in terms of the number of faculty and staff participants who charitably committed to make gifts as well as the total dollar amount,” Murphy said. “It was far and away a success.”

Additionally, in an effort spearheaded by Faculty Senate Chair David Miller and Career Services Director John Shirley, the campaign was undertaken with a personal touch. This past fall, volunteers fanned out across campus and hand-delivered donor brochures and solicitation letters to their colleagues and took the opportunity, whenever possible, to explain several the new giving opportunities compared to past faculty-staff annual fund drives.

Professor Anderson Young called upon colleagues in his own department, recreation, parks and leisure studies, as well as the departments of kinesiology, sport management, and physical education and the athletic training office.

“As a Faculty and Staff Campaign volunteer I’ve made similar calls in the past, but it never was as much fun as this year with all the added features of doing that,” Young said. “I bleed red and white, so I’m happy to contribute. But this year the changes in the parameters made me more than happy to participate.

“It was great to be able to say to somebody, ‘I know there is something to love on this campus. Why don’t you give to that? And your gift will be doubled, not just this year, but each of the next five years you choose to give.’”

Some people Young approached had put their pledge materials aside, thinking it was the usual campaign.

Donor Reception
President Erik J. Bitterbaum, shown to the right in the foreground, takes an opportunity to tell faculty and staff attending his donor reception on Feb. 17 in Jacobus Lounge how their gifts will help future students meet their goals.

“I really had to call attention to those features, and then they got really excited,” he said. “Some people even recalled their initial pledges and increased their gifts so they would be able to get the match.”

College fundraisers ultimately hope the generosity of the campus community will have a ripple effect as they make a case for new or greater commitment from alumni, friends of the College and the business community in the Cortland region.

Susan Wilson, an associate professor of recreation, parks and leisure studies, has donated through payroll deduction for years. This year, she decided to increase the size of her gift and make a five-year commitment.

“The matching gift program was a big incentive for donors to increase their gift money, thanks to the generosity of the President’s Council and the Cortland College Foundation,” Wilson said.

“I designated my money to the Cortland varsity softball team,” she continued. “I have been their academic advisor for a number of years, and when I went on their spring trip for softball, I learned the women raised a great deal of money to make that trip. It’s money out of my paycheck through payroll deduction, which I don’t miss, and it will allow for the athletes to have an easier time as far as raising their own money.

“As faculty and staff, we all have programs that are near and dear to us, things that we’ve done on this campus in which we see the benefit,” Wilson said. “Things that add to the college experience are good. If you think something is important, then contributing to it makes sense.”