Colgate Launches Historic $1 Billion Campaign to Support Transformational Initiatives

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President Casey address crowd at campaign launch event
By Ben Badua April 25, 2022

Colgate University publicly launched the largest philanthropic campaign in its 203-year history on Friday, April 22 – and the largest such campaign undertaken by a liberal arts college.

We seek to not only be one of the most compelling undergraduate institutions in the country, but a leader,” said President Brian W. Casey. “The college that reaffirms the liberal arts, that embraces debate and inquiry, and that cherishes having students from all different quarters and all different means living together in an intentional community. The Third-Century Plan and this campaign are the most ambitious undertakings in our history, and they set the path to move Colgate to new heights.”

With a $1 billion goal, the Campaign for the Third Century will provide resources for Colgate’s Third-Century Plan, the long-term, strategic roadmap for the University that was introduced and adopted by the institution during its Bicentennial in 2019.

More than $410 million has already been committed to support campaign priorities and will accelerate Colgate’s ability to attract talented students and faculty; strengthen its academic enterprise; enrich the student experience; and enhance its idyllic campus, famous for its beauty.

“Colgate is a creative and energetic institution with a mission of the utmost importance for the world,” said Michael Herling ’79, P’08,’09,’12, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. “The Third-Century Plan takes the strengths of our institution and scales them up to meet modern demands, and the campaign will provide the resources to help us realize the Plan’s full potential.”

Building New Areas of Strength

The Campaign for the Third Century is the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign in nearly a decade and promises to usher in the largest and most significant transformation in the history of Colgate. 

Touching on every aspect of University, the campaign will focus on building new strengths in several key areas: academics; creativity and innovation; faculty; admissions; residential life; athletics; campus and sustainability; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and life after Colgate.

All of our Colgate stories intersect in this campaign and through the Plan,” said campaign co-chair Gretchen Burke ’81. I encourage all members of our community to take part in a tradition of philanthropy at Colgate that has made our own experiences possible and memorable.”

In the leadup to the launch of the campaign, 13 women graduates of Colgate stepped forward with $1 million each to support campaign priorities. The first-of-its-kind collaboration aims to generate a wellspring of support for the University’s third-century ambitions, while inspiring philanthropic giving at all levels.

Generosity through Colgate’s Thirteen Women Initiative and other efforts will provide the necessary resources that allow the University to implement the structures — both physical and intellectual — that help the institution solve today’s complex problems and meet the challenges of tomorrow. Highlights include:

  • Building on efforts to make a Colgate education accessible to outstanding students regardless of socioeconomic background by supporting financial aid initiatives such as the Colgate Commitment, which aligns tuition costs with family income.
  • The addition of 25 endowed professorships to allow Colgate to attract and retain outstanding teacher-scholars and to support emerging academic initiatives.
  • A hub for arts, creativity, and innovation in a newly created Middle Campus. Later this year, Colgate will break ground on the Benton Center for Arts, Creativity, and Technology, made possible by a $25 million gift from Dan Benton ’80, H’10, P’10, to house departmental offices, flexible performance and teaching spaces, computer and media labs, studios, offices, and gathering spaces for faculty and students.
  • The Robert H.N. Ho Mind, Brain, and Behavior Center, drawing on funds from the $15 million leadership gift by the center’s namesake to renovate and expand Olin Hall and foster multidisciplinary scholarship by bringing together faculty and students in psychological and brain sciences, neuroscience, biology, philosophy, linguistics, and language programs.
  • The first residence hall of the University’s fifth Residential Commons, through a $10 million leadership gift from Bob Fox ’59. Fox Hall will be located between Burke Hall and the ALANA Cultural Center in an area now occupied by Gate House, and it is the first step in the University’s plans to complete its Residential College System.
  • Renovations of the Reid Athletic Center, launched with a $25 million leadership gift from Chase Carey ’76, as part of the University’s ongoing effort to expand its reach and reputation through its Division I athletics program. When complete, Reid will feature a new arena and competition court, updated team and locker rooms, and a new health and performance center.
  • An architecturally and socially connected residential district on the Lower Campus. Plans include new housing for juniors and seniors, renovations to existing Broad Street houses, new dining, study, and community spaces, and new paths and green space that connect to campus.
  • The Colgate Fund, an unrestricted fund that augments income from the University’s endowment each year. The Colgate Fund enables the University to respond quickly to new challenges and opportunities and have access to additional resources to fund priority projects.

Reflections on Colgate’s Third Century

Addressing a crowd of more than 400 alumni, faculty, and University leaders at Friday’s event in New York City, University trustee and campaign co-chair Christine Chao ’86 recalled her first-ever gift to the University. 

It was January of 1987, less than a year after graduating, and it was for $25 in support of the Colgate Fund. Now, Chao is one of 13 Colgate women who recently committed $1 million as part of the Thirteen Women initiative.

“Whether your passion is financial aid, the arts, athletics, innovation, research, buildings, infrastructure, trees, or computers, this campaign has something for everyone,” said Chao. “Each of us has the opportunity to play a role in Colgate’s Third-Century Plan by making a gift that is meaningful to us, in that moment.”

Chao’s comments served as a through line for the celebration, which included remarks from Burke, Herling, and Casey.

Earlier in the evening, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in Humanities Peter Balakian helped set the tone for the event and place the campaign in context by reflecting on Colgate’s third century.

Michael Herling ’79, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, addresses crowd at campaign launch event.
Michael Herling ’79, P’08,’09,’12, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, addresses the crowd at Colgate’s campaign launch event.