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Seven-year fundraising campaign raises $232.6M for Lawrence University

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 10:27 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 26, 2021 at 5:56 PM CST
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Good things come to those who wait, and the wait for Lawrence University is over. After a 7-year fundraising campaign, the college in Appleton announced a total $232.6 million was contributed by more than 16,000 donors.

The goal of the “Be the Light!” campaign when it began was $220 million. The money will be used for scholarships, lowering student debt, improving and expanding academic programs offered at the liberal arts college, and updating existing facilities.

”It’s been an extraordinary outpouring of support from over 16,000 people, not just members alum of Lawrence but members of the large Lawrence community,” university president Mark Burstein said.

Lawrence University says about 9,000 of the donors are Lawrence alumni and almost 70% of donations were for $100 or less.

Burstein was quoted on the university blog Thursday saying, “This campaign has touched every aspect of the Lawrence experience.... Scholarship, internships, religious and spiritual life, endowed faculty chairs, bricks and mortar projects, athletics. Bjorklunden (Lawrence’s campus in northern Door County). It’s just really touched every aspect of who we are and what we can offer to students.”

“Be the Light!” was ignited by a match: In 2014, an anonymous donor offered a $25 million matching grant to boost the school’s “Full Speed to Full Need” scholarship initiative. That grew to a $30 million grant, and donors matched it in less than a year-and-a-half, ultimately tripling that amount.

It’s funding that’s already made a difference.

“That scholarship money has direct impact on students and families. We’ve raised over $91 million in scholarship funds, and that means the average indebtedness has decreased, pretty significantly by $5,000 during the campaign time period,” Burstein told us.

$31 million went to the Lawrence Fund to support day-to-day operations of the university.

$26 million will be used to renovate buildings, including the iconic Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Warch Campus Center and the Banta Bowl, upgrade dormitories and classrooms, and provide green energy at the Bjorklunden campus.

Five million dollars was used to update the Career Center based on the findings of a “Life After Lawrence” study in 2018. “hat means more internships for our students, more individual support for their careers and their thinking about their careers,” Burstein said.

Five new endowed faculty positions are being added, too. “It allows us to increase our curriculum to things we hadn’t taught before, like cognitive neuroscience or organizational psychology, learning how to live and work in groups, something I would say all of us need to learn how to do.”

Lawrence University has existed for 174 years, and the success of the “Be the Light!” campaign will ensure the university is around for at least another century-and-a-half.

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