by University Advancement Staff
The first university in the U.S. — William & Mary — launched its $1 billion For the Bold campaign in New York City last night against the backdrop of the iconic Empire State Building, which shined brightly in green and gold in honor of the nearly 13,000 alumni, parents and friends in the area and over 97,000 alumni around the globe. The campaign aims, among other priorities, to significantly bolster scholarships support and alleviate student loan debt — an important topic in the spotlight this election season.
“The lighting of the Empire State Building in green and gold signals to New York City that William & Mary has come to the Big Apple,” said William & Mary President Taylor Reveley. “Our university has put its stake in the ground and called upon its family to support the Alma Mater of the Nation so it can excel in a time of ferocious competition and relentless change. We must go above and beyond to sustain our mission for all time coming.”
New York City was chosen as the first regional kickoff of the For the Bold campaign.
Among those participating and attending the kickoff event are some of the most distinguished champions and philanthropic giants in New York City and the nation, including Jill Ellis '88, World Cup winner and Olympic head coach; Katie Boehly '95 and Todd Boehly '96, chairman and CEO of Eldridge Industries and one of the principal owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Ken Himmel '68, president and CEO of Related Urban; as well as Beth Comstock '82, vice chair at GE.
David Kelley '81, partner at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, and Devin Murphy '82, principal and CFO of Phillips Edison & Company, are William & Mary’s New York City campaign co-chairs and are tasked with leading For the Bold efforts in the area. Kelley previously served as a top prosecutor in the U.S. Justice Department’s probe of the 9/11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He also served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Murphy has been a leader in the commercial real estate industry for more than 30 years and was formerly a Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley.
During the celebration, the university announced its plans to raise $100 million in the New York City metro area as part of the overall $1 billion goal to fund scholarships and other areas that support excellence in the classroom and on the field. To date, William & Mary has secured over $620 million, including more than $52 million from generous donors in the New York City area. More than $200 million has been raised for scholarships so far.
"Student loan debt has been in the spotlight and William & Mary has a bold plan to do something about it. The university’s ambitious campaign will provide financial relief to admitted students — and their families — and empower those students to lead without burden,” said Sue Hanna Gerdelman '76, campaign chair. “Our plan is to help thousands of gifted students across the U.S. afford the opportunity to access a high-caliber education at William & Mary through an extraordinary increase in scholarships aid."
In addition to raising $1 billion, the university aims to strengthen alumni engagement and achieve 40 percent annual alumni participation by 2020. In order to reach 40 percent alumni participation and ensure that the university can continue to fund its most pressing needs, William & Mary has set a goal of inspiring more than 1,200 undergraduate alumni — out of 3,997 undergraduate alumni — in the New York City area to give back to their alma mater in 2017, and 1,500 undergraduate alumni to give back annually by 2020.
“Forty percent alumni participation is the university’s most ambitious goal. No other public university in the New York City area has been able to achieve this and only a small handful of higher education institutions in the nation have been able to do so,” said Kelley. “The marketability of alumni in the workforce is influenced by the value of a William & Mary degree and the value of said degree hinges greatly on alumni giving and participation. This is true for alumni in New York City, in Washington, D.C., in California and beyond.”
William & Mary — the smallest public university in the U.S. to launch a campaign of this size — currently has one of the lowest student-to-faculty ratios in the nation and in 2015, was rated No. 1 among all public universities for best undergraduate teaching, according to U.S. News & World Report. The university is also rated No. 1 in the U.S. for the number of undergraduate students participating in study abroad programs, which are critical to prepare students to help solve some of society’s greatest challenges around the globe.
“In my view, there is no better investment than in a 324-year-old higher education institution such as William & Mary,” said Murphy. “The unique brand of education and long legacy of achievement is what sets William & Mary apart from other universities in the U.S. I am thankful for the world-class education I received at the university."
Nestled in the colonial capital of Virginia — Williamsburg — William & Mary was founded by the queen and king of England in 1693. It was the first higher education institution in the U.S. to achieve university status when William & Mary Law School, also the nation’s first, was established in 1779. It is also the first public university in the state of Virginia to admit women. There are currently 8,484 students at William & Mary, including 405 from the New York City area.
William & Mary counts four U.S. presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Monroe and Tyler), entertainment legends such as Jon Stewart and Glenn Close, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served under Presidents Obama and Bush, as well as heads of the U.S. and U.K. space agencies — both women — as alumni.
William & Mary’s New York City campaign co-chairs Murphy and Kelley ended the evening on a high note by unveiling the Empire State Building illuminated in green and gold to approximately 400 members of the Tribe community.
“William & Mary lights the way of the future. The Alma Mater of the Nation helped make us brighter and better citizens of the world. It is our job to pass this torch on for generations to come,” concluded Murphy.