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May 18, 2017

Bates College kicks off $300M fundraising campaign

Courtesy / Bates College
Courtesy / Bates College
Bates College President Clayton Spencer is joined by broadcast journalist Bryant Gumbel, Class of 1970. Gumbel was on hand at Bates College's event in Boston on Tuesday kicking off its $300 million fundraising campaign.

Bates College kicked off the most ambitious fundraising effort in its history in Boston on Tuesday knowing that it already has raised $168.5 million, or more than half the $300 million goal, in the two-year quiet phase of seeking pledges.

Clayton Spencer, president of the Lewiston college, told the audience at the first of four campaign kickoff events that the campaign has a singular aim: to "secure what is best and most distinctive about Bates."

The Boston event was hosted by broadcast journalist Bryant Gumbel, Bates Class of 1970, who will also host tonight's event in New York City. Other kickoff events will be held on the Bates campus on Friday and in San Franciso on June 15.

The five-year campaign seeks to strengthen the college's endowment by $160 million through professorships and endowed funds for financial aid and academic innovations; improve facilities, including new and modernized STEM facilities; increase funding for programs focused on student success, including Purposeful Work; and sustain a strong Bates Fund.

$50 million gift for STEM facilities

A highlight of the Boston event was the announcement of a $50 million gift from Michael Bonney '80 and Alison Grott Bonney '80.

One of the largest gifts in the history of Maine higher education, the Bonneys' gift, given by their family foundation, will fund the building and renovation of new and modernized STEM facilities at Bates. Spencer said the goal of those STEM initiatives is to create a "physical platform for science that matches the talent and ambition" of Bates faculty and students.

Michael Bonney, chairman of the board of trustees, is one of three co-chairs of The Bates Campaign, and the retired CEO of Cubist Pharmaceuticals.

Four priorities

The Bates campaign has identified four priorities:

Above and beyond funds raised for other campaign objectives, a central goal of The Bates Campaign is to increase the college's unrestricted endowment funds ($20 million over five years) and to sustain support for the Bates Fund, which raises nearly $7 million annually to support the operating budget.

Gifts to college trend upward

Gifts to the college have been rising, having increased 30% or more in each of the last three fiscal years — more than doubling overall since fiscal 2013, the initial year of Clayton Spencer's presidency.

During the giving year ending June 30, 2016, Bates donors contributed a record $28.2 million.

The $168.5 million campaign total announced to date includes 18 gifts or pledges of $1 million and above.

Signature gifts to Bates during the first four years of the Spencer presidency have included the $11.5 Catalyst Fund gift to support a series of strategic initiatives, and $19 million in gifts announced in February 2016 to endow six new endowed professorships and launch the college's Program in Digital and Computational Studies.

In October 2016 Bates named its two new residence halls in honor of Elizabeth Kalperis Chu '80 and J. Michael Chu '80 in recognition of their $10 million gift.

Bates has conducted four previous campaigns over the last half-century, all successes, including efforts concluding in 2006 ($120.9 million raised); in 1996 ($59.3 million); in 1984 ($21.4 million); and in 1974 ($6.9 million).

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