TCNJ’s academic reputation keeps climbing. What will it take to move the needle further?
JOHN QUIMBY MAY WELL HAVE BEEN CONFLICTED BY the proceedings of April 25, but the crowd that gathered upon the prairie that bears his name to celebrate the launch of The Campaign for TCNJ was decidedly not.
“The mood on campus was electric that day,” says Terri Martinac ’72, MEd ’73, a member of the campaign steering committee. “I’ve never seen the community so enthused.”
Legend has it that Quimby, the college’s persnickety business manager in the 1930s and ’40s, had a penchant for scolding anyone who trod on the grass in front of Green Hall. His doggedness in that pursuit prompted students to nickname the quad in his honor.
Imagine his reaction had he seen the thousand or so members of the TCNJ community gathered there, amid all the pomp and pageantry befitting an historic event, to listen as President R. Barbara Gitenstein announced the first comprehensive fundraising effort in the college’s 160-year history. The campaign’s goal, said the president, is to raise at least $40 million by June 2017, helping to ensure that “a TCNJ education continues to be both exceptional and accessible for hardworking, promising students.”
Fussy fescue lover Quimby might have been horror-struck to see his beloved sod trampled, but Quimby the financier would have cheered this college-wide effort to help ensure the institution has the resources needed to achieve its vision in an era of ever-declining state support. And he’d have been equally happy to hear the campaign had already raised nearly $25 million by the time of its public launch.
The college can point to numerous points in its history where decisive action pushed the institution forward, and, in the rearview mirror, launching an era of private giving may ultimately be seen as one of those. “TCNJ has a tremendous educational momentum going, which makes this the perfect time to foster a culture of philanthropy within our community,” says John Donohue, vice-president for college advancement.
“I’m seeing energy and commitment from people—from alumni to educational partners to parents—every step of the way,” he says. “We all want to see the college thrive. The spirit we saw at the launch is confirmation we’re heading in the right direction.”
One of the first gifts to put the campaign on track during its quiet phase came from Barbara Meyers Pelson ’59: a $1 million donation that created TCNJ’s first endowed chair, the Barbara Meyers Pelson ’59 Chair in Faculty- Student Engagement.
“As an alumna, I know firsthand the impact that our school makes in the lives of all who attend,” Pelson, a co-chair of the campaign, told those in attendance that day. “TCNJ has an exciting vision for the future, and I hope my gift inspires others to come forward to support this effort in their own large or small way. Every gift makes a difference.”
Associate Professor of Biology Amanda Norvell agrees.
“You don’t need to give enough to name a building to make a difference at TCNJ,” says Norvell. “I’ve seen the impact even a small gift in support of mentored research makes in the educational experience and life trajectory of a student.”
Norvell, who is also president of the Faculty Senate, says there’s an excitement among her ranks about the campaign.
“Faculty are passionate about research, and we’re equally passionate about educating and collaborating with students,” she says. “Ultimately, this campaign will support TCNJ in its efforts to provide that type of deeply personal and engaging educational experience.”
“I’m not a TCNJ graduate, but I have been involved with this great institution for more years than I can remember,” said campaign co-chair Allen Silk during the launch. “I remain committed to TCNJ because of its importance to the region, its commitment to excellence in everything that it does, and the outstanding leadership that guides it. I’m energized by its potential and am excited to be a part of this campaign.”
“This fundraising effort is about ensuring the college can continue to attract the best and brightest students and faculty,” says Gitenstein. “The fact that we’re already halfway toward our goal shows there is overwhelming enthusiasm and support for the effort.”
The Campaign for TCNJ
Subtitled “Innovate, Inspire, Engage,” the college’s inaugural campaign seeks to raise at least $40 million by June 2017. Here’s where the money is needed most:
Goal: $20 million
To support scholarships, fellowships, and innovative learning that ensures deserving TCNJ students can focus on fulfilling their promise.
Goal: $4 million
To support faculty research and scholarship, and help TCNJ attract and retain top scholars and students.
Goal: $14 million
To create and support mentored, practice-based study and opportunities to learn and lead in the community and across the globe.
Goal: $2 million
To subsidize construction of the STEM Complex, which will give science and engineering students access to modern labs and the cross-disciplinary environments embraced by industry innovators.