The Campaign for the Third Century

I write these columns for Colgate Magazine months in advance of publication. So, in addition to trying to write something informative and compelling, I find myself trying to anticipate the events and conditions of the world and the campus. As I write this, events in the world seem extremely uncertain, and I know that this will likely remain the case.

But, as I write this, I do know that Colgate will have moved into the public phase of its fundraising campaign and will have announced as an ultimate goal of this campaign not only the largest amount of new funds raised for Colgate, but perhaps the largest amount ever raised by a liberal arts college. It is an audacious and ambitious amount, reflecting the scope of the initiatives and goals the University seeks to achieve.

Perhaps though, the events of the world and the plans for Colgate can be thought of as related. Colgate is many things to many people — one’s alma mater, one’s employer, the place where you go to school — but it is, at its core, a mission-driven institution. What must drive us, and must inform every decision, is the mission to educate a new generation of students, to create and disseminate knowledge, and to serve the nation and world through both.

“It is an audacious and ambitious amount, reflecting the scope of the initiatives and goals the University seeks to achieve.”

Illustration by Anje Jager

Colgate’s fundraising campaign — audacious as it is — can only be understood through this lens of mission. While the resources we seek are significant, and the plans that such resources will make possible transformative, we must always come back to our core mission.

So, in the weeks and months (and even years) ahead, as we speak of Colgate’s plans and this campaign, please know that the following guides us:

Making Colgate Accessible to More Students

With the Colgate Commitment — through which we are eliminating student loans — and our efforts to speak of Colgate to a wider set of students, the University must throw its net as widely as possible to make this education available and possible for students of profound achievement and promise.

Strengthening Our Academic Program and Faculty

Colgate’s curriculum should be challenging, robust, and relevant. And it should have at its foundation the most fundamental elements of a liberal arts education: the rigorous engagement with ideas in an environment that supports robust discovery and debate. Leading that effort must be scholars of the first order, attracted to Colgate not only by the quality of our students, but also by the support we give to faculty members to conduct their work at the highest level.

Enriching the Lives of Those On Our Campus

From improving how every student lives, to improving the ways our staff members work, to improving our programs and our athletics, this campaign (and everything we do) must be focused on making membership in this academic community robust, fulfilling, and supportive.

Sending New Generations of Graduates Out Into Lives of Purpose

At the end, due to the education and experiences we have provided, we must send our graduates out into the world with purpose. There is no greater endeavor than this, and no greater distillation of our mission.

So, yes, Colgate has embarked on a large fundraising endeavor. We do so because we are committed to this mission. Whenever you read about the campaign, and see the news of gifts, and see new buildings go up, and see new programs on the campus, know that the simple act of sending reasoned and reasonable young people out into the world lies at the heart of it all.

And in this way, in a world marked by danger and confusion, we serve each other. And the world.

That is why there is a Campaign for the Third Century.