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President Herbst offers clear vision for need-blind future

By Mark Walden on September 19, 2011

Last Saturday, September 17, President Jeffrey Herbst made an announcement that will change the landscape of admission and financial aid at Colgate University.

“Our ultimate aspiration is to be need-blind, to admit the students we want, without finances playing into the equation.”

The news was delivered at Gotham Hall in New York City to an audience of alumni, parents, and friends – philanthropists who have helped to increase Colgate’s financial aid resources by $87.5 million since the launch of Passion for the Climb: The Campaign for Colgate in March 2007. They were seated next to current undergraduates who have received that generosity and used it to build an academic foundation for future success.

The crowd was joined, in spirit, by a series of students who weren’t as fortunate. Every year, the university declines admission to numerous individuals who are academically qualified. “These are outstanding students who had the credentials to be admitted,” said Herbst. “They came to our doorstep, but we could not admit them because we could not afford them all.”

40fortheclimb1.JPGPresident Herbst has made scholarship support a top priority at Colgate, where approximately 40 percent of the student body currently receives financial aid.

The process of achieving need-blind admission will be founded on early campaign gains and on a new challenge leveled by members of the Colgate community. Nearly 100, including Herbst and his wife, Sharon Polansky, have already stepped forward with a $20 million investment. They are asking their friends and classmates to match those dollars, raise the tally to $40 million, and make the total campaign contribution to financial aid an impressive $127.5 million.

“We will not get there tomorrow,” Herbst warned the crowd. “But get there we will. And long before we reach need-blind status, we will have aided dozens and hundreds and thousands of additional students — all of whom will make tremendous contributions to our school and our society.”

Denying admission based on financial qualifications has a profound influence on Colgate and on the world outside its gates, said Herbst. “The best way to ensure our health as an institution for decades to come is to make sure we can admit the outstanding students who are already applying to us,” he said. “Given the challenges we face today, I think our society needs those Colgate-educated students.”

To make the theoretical point real, Herbst introduced Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose family was profiled in the Oscar-winning film The Blind Side. She and her husband, Sean, adopted Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher when he was a high school student in Memphis in 2004.

She spoke passionately about her own commitment to bettering the world through charitable giving and encouraged the Colgate community to follow suit. “We believe with every fiber in our being that the kids who will find the cure for cancer – living in inner-city New York, inner-city Detroit, you name the city — they just need opportunity,” she said. “That is what Colgate is doing: they’re trying to provide opportunities.”

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Colgate thanks the following alumni, parents, and friends for launching this financial aid challenge:

Robert E. Aberlin ’66
Anonymous (3)
Brion B. Applegate ’76
Mr. & Mrs. Thomas G. Armstrong ’52
Dewey J. Awad ’90
Nancy L. Baker ’80
Robert Baker ’79
Michael J. Batza Jr. ’63
Donald A. Belgrad ’61
Mr. & Mrs. James N. Benedict P’09
E. Garrett Bewkes Jr. ’48 H’91
Jonathan ’75 & Patricia Birenbaum
J. Kent Jr. ’61 & Prudence Blair
Lawrence A. Bossidy ’57
Gail Boulton ’83
Mr. & Mrs. Raymond W. Boushie ’61 P’84
Stephen B. ’80 & Gretchen H. ’81 Burke P’12
James A. Cacioppo ’84
Paul B. Carberry Jr. ’94
Kenny Cheng P’11
Jonathan Huntington Clark ’77 P’14
Mr. & Mrs. J. Christopher Clifford ’67 P’93
Eric A. ’93 & Rachel Cole
Jean-Pierre L. Conte ’85
Michael R. Costa ’80
Patrick C. Cunningham ’95
Mr. & Mrs. Scott V. Donahue ’76 P’14
Mr. & Mrs. Gary B. Eichhorn ’75 P’05
Stephen J. Errico ’85
Mr. & Mrs. Jeffrey B. Fager ’77 P’06
Phillip C. ’82 & Jeanne C. ’82 Foussard
Christopher J. ’84 & Jennifer Gavigan
Robert L. Gold ’80 P’15
Donna O. Golkin ’74
Robin I. Gottesman ’78 & Richard Levine P’05
Mr. & Mrs. Robert C. Hawley P’14
Mr. & Mrs. Richard R. Hellstern ’61
Mr. & Mrs. Reuben S. Hendell ’82
Jeffrey Herbst & Sharon Polansky
Mr. & Mrs. Jeffrey W. Hickling ’77 P’07’12
Adam L.’87 & Denise Hoeflich
  Jack ’61 & Sue Homestead
Sandra W. Jackson ’81
C. Lloyd Jr. ’64 & Patricia L. Johnson
P’91
Amy Freedman Jurkowitz ’85
Margaret Simonetti Kelly ’80
Mr. & Mrs. Thomas F. Kirkpatrick ’61 P’89’92
Judith ’82 & Olav Kollevoll
Eric Kollevoll
Kris Kollevoll
Ann Molino Kurtz ’77
Harry H. Lang Jr. ’48
William R. Jr. ’60 & Helen Markram Large
Kurt F. Loesch ’48
Peter L. ’93 & Gretchen Jordan ’93 Menzies
Creighton Michael & Leslie D. Cecil P’14
Amr M. Nosseir ’76
Mark D. Nozette ’71
Mr. & Mrs. Paul C. Parshley ’72 P’01’08
The Perkin Fund (Thorne L. Perkin ’97)
Mr. & Mrs. Barrett Petty ’63
Mr. & Mrs. Albert F. Potter ’52 P’82
Dr. & Mrs. Clinton L. Rappole ’62 P’91
David L. ’82 & Jennifer ’82 Rea
Allison J. Rosen ’82
Donald A. ’46 & Renate Schaefer
Lisa Oppenheim Schultz ’85 & Robert D. Schultz P’15
Gabriel T. ’00 & Jolie Schwartz
James O. Shaver Jr. ’86 & Christine Chao ’86
Patrick J. C. ’92 & Finley ’95 Shaw
Kent Sheng
Turner C. Smith ’77
Kerry LeBlanc Strong ’85 & Jeffrey Strong
Tighe ’83 & Callie Sullivan
Andrew W. Sweet ’93
Edward E. Vaill ’62
Mr. & Mrs. Richard S. Van Cleave III ’58
Jeffrey T. ’87 & Kimberly ’89 Veber
Thomas ’69 & Sue Weidemeyer
Kenneth S. ’87 & Karen Ziman

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2 Comments



  • Christopher Nulty '09 said:

    In a recent edition of the Colgate Scene (Spring 2011, perhaps?), a number of would-be Colgate students were profiled. The students, all of whom had applied to Colgate earlier that year, carried remarkable credentials and were seemingly the exact sort of students anyone would be proud to call friends and classmates.
    While I have always been aware of Colgate’s inability to be need blind, the Scene’s profile was a remarkable tribute to missed opportunity and innovation. I am excited about President Herbst’s announcement and thankful to the people who have stepped up to realize this commitment to being need blind.
    What a great step for Colgate.




  • Aurelius Henderson said:

    As a College Opportunity Education veteran of nearly 20-years, I am pleased that President Herbst is directing our Institution towards a clear vision for a need-blind access to admissions in Higher Education. Mrs. Leigh Anne Touhy’s sentiments echo a reality of the underrepresented, underestimated inner-city students’ capacities to possibly find the cure to cancer…”they just need Opportunity”. For more than 40 years, Colgate University has been providing ACCESS through Higher Education [Gateway and Pathway] opportunity programs.
    As Colgate continues this commitment to offer 21st century leadership in this area, I am reassured in the knowledge that proper resource alignment transforms the global competitiveness of America through the educational landscape of our campus community.
    Aurelius Henderson
    Assistant Dean for Administrative Advising in Student Affairs