One person can make a difference. And when it becomes personal, it leads to a big difference.
A difference of more than 2,800 students having new scholarships. A difference of nearly 11,000 students having career development opportunities to help them land that first job. A difference of nearly 20,000 donors and volunteers having a new sense of engagement and school pride.
An unprecedented transformation.
This fall, Bloomsburg University celebrated the conclusion of its most successful capital campaign ever, It’s Personal. The seven-year campaign raised more than $62 million for new scholarships, new faculty professorships and fellowships, and new learning opportunities for each student to receive career experience every year until graduation.
“When the Council of Trustees selected me to serve as president of Bloomsburg in 2008, they assigned me the task and priority of putting the infrastructure in place that would allow us to begin building a culture of philanthropy,” says former BU President David Soltz.
The assignment couldn’t have been timelier. A shift in demographics in the state and a sharp drop in the number of college-aged students meant that the competition to attract new students would soon increase immensely. After extensive research and planning, in 2010 Soltz, in collaboration with Council of Trustees, university administrators and the Bloomsburg University Foundation Board, launched It’s Personal: The Campaign for Bloomsburg University.
But the campaign was always about more than money. It was about people.
“This campaign was our opportunity to engage alumni and friends and ask them to be more than just donors,” says Erik Evans, vice president for university advancement. “Our goal was to create a philanthropic culture where they would be valued as partners who would invest in our students and faculty and contribute to the continued growth and success of the university.”
“It’s Personal grew very quickly and organically into much more than a campaign name or slogan,” Evans adds. “By connecting our supporters with their own passions at Bloomsburg, we created exactly the types of partnerships we were hoping for.
That inspired donors to make gifts that were not only strategic to our continued success, but that were also personally meaningful to them.”
At the time of the public campaign launch on Oct. 16, 2015, contributions already received from more than 14,800 donors had raised nearly $37 million.
The It’s Personal theme served as both a framework for the stories that inspired alumni and friends to give back, and a guiding principle to focus the campaign on four specific areas — academic and athletic scholarships; recruitment, support and retention of outstanding faculty; professional experiences for students; and emerging opportunities for the university.
By early November 2016, the university had already exceeded its initial goal by more than $10 million. This success led to the campaign officially closing six months earlier than anticipated to coincide with Soltz’s retirement in June 2016.
On Oct. 6, 2017, the BU community of donors, alumni, faculty and staff celebrated the milestone and the impact it will have on the future of the university. The evening culminated with a fireworks display that served as both a celebration of the campaign’s success and the kickoff to the weekend’s Homecoming festivities.
“Seven years ago, when Dr. Soltz and Bloomsburg University began to build their vision for what they thought this effort could accomplish, these were the results we were hoping for,” says Duane Greenly, chair of the It’s Personal campaign. “I always had faith that we would reach our goal, but it is hard for me to express how proud I am to be a part of the Bloomsburg University community and to see how we have come together to turn this dream into a reality.”
For BU President Bashar W. Hanna, the success of the campaign represents an opportunity to build on a solid foundation.
“The success of the campaign is an extraordinary milestone, but we won’t stop here,” says Hanna. “These are challenging times in higher education, but Bloomsburg is well positioned to meet those challenges. I look forward to taking the next steps together with the Bloomsburg University community as we build on the positive momentum and energy created with this campaign.” λ