In just under four years, and 16 months ahead of schedule, Colgate has reached the $400-million goal initially set forth in the most ambitious campaign in the university’s history, President Jeffrey Herbst announced today.

The broad scope of Passion for the Climb: The Campaign for Colgate has been transformative for the university, generating $78 million for academic excellence, $94 million for financial aid and access, $51 million for residential education and the campus community, and $177 million for the general endowment and annual fund.

“One of the most compelling things about Colgate is the indomitable spirit of everyone associated with the university,” said Herbst. Since becoming Colgate’s 16th president six months ago, Herbst has been instrumental in securing several important leadership gifts, thereby helping reach the $400 million goal well ahead of schedule.


In his inaugural address, Herbst announced an additional $40 million goal for financial aid, to be raised by the campaign’s official end date of May 31, 2012.

“Despite the challenging economy, alumni and parents have never wavered in their conviction that supporting the liberal arts at Colgate is a necessary and worthwhile investment,” Herbst said. “The key to Colgate’s future success in global higher education is our ability to offer adequate financial aid to all deserving students. We absolutely must press on.”

Herbst credited campaign chair James L. Elrod ’76, P’04, P’05, P’12 for his determination in marshalling resources and leading a complex volunteer and staff operation that has focused on both leadership and participatory giving.

“From the earliest planning stages, there was incredible optimism about this campaign’s ability to elevate Colgate’s ambition and draw broad support,” said Elrod. “When the silent-phase challenge from Dan Benton ’80, P’12 raised nearly $53 million from 19 alumni, we knew there was unprecedented potential. Visionary capital support from Robert H.N. Ho ’56 and others accelerated our momentum.”

Elrod also credited former Colgate President Rebecca Chopp, along with Denis Cronin ’69, P’09, P’10, chair of the silent phase of the campaign, and John Golden ’66, then chair of the Board of Trustees, whose leadership and strategic plan provided the campaign’s underpinning.

Gifts to financial aid have had an immediate impact on campus. The Benton Scholars program, for example, affords global opportunities for leadership and the liberal arts for a cohort of about 18 students each year. Campaign funding also has allowed Colgate to accept more students who are in need of financial aid, resulting in increased socio-economic diversity on campus.

Three major capital projects, totaling almost 200,000 square feet, have brought the campaign’s most visible changes to campus — the new Robert H.N. Ho Science Center, the renovated and transformed Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology Center, and the new Trudy Fitness Center.

Investors also endowed seven professorial chairs, the Picker Science Institute, the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization, the Shaw Family Wellness Institute, the Robert A. Fox ’59 Leadership Institute, the Blackmore Media Center, and much more.

The village of Hamilton and central New York also will feel the impact of Passion for the Climb for decades to come. Now fully endowed, Colgate’s Upstate Institute will have the resources to sustain its scholarly collaboration, research, and connections with the region.

According to Murray L. Decock ’80, vice president for institutional advancement and campaign director, the campaign launched publicly in March 2007 with $185 million already raised.

Since then, generous alumni, parents, and friends contributed an additional $215 million in gifts, bringing the total number of participants to 31,000. The $400 million total also includes $5 million in grants, and $22 million in gifts from parents and grandparents.

“The success of Passion for the Climb reflects the incredible passion, generosity, and loyalty that have always been great assets of Colgate people,” said Decock, who projected that by May 2012 the total could reach as high as $470 million, making Colgate’s campaign one of the largest among its liberal arts peers.

“The economic correction led to even greater compassion and urgency with our mission, and our success all the more remarkable,” said Decock. “It isn’t even a bit tempting to rest on our laurels and end the campaign ahead of schedule. Each additional dollar to the university represents greater opportunity for students from all over the world, or right next door, to partake in one of the best liberal arts educations anywhere.”