Austin College President Steven P. O’Day announced a $125 million fundraising campaign, “POWER Austin College,” before a gathering of the College’s faithful at Homecoming & Family Weekend today, November 10. The Sherman High School drumline, Katy ’Roo, and the Austin College cheerleaders were on hand to add to the festivities of the morning and the spirit of the weekend.
President O’Day told his audience that Austin College has much good news to celebrate. He explained that the College has been in the “quiet phase” of the campaign and has reached 75 percent of the goal, following a record-setting fiscal year of fundraising that brought in $31 million.
The president announced the campaign launch internally a few weeks ago to faculty and staff since they POWER the College in its mission. “Now we publicly launch the campaign with you, our alumni and current parents, because you know firsthand the POWER of an Austin College education to transform students, so they can transform the world,” President O’Day said.
“In this campaign, we are working to raise the funds needed to continue those transformations today and into the future,” the president said. “We need to support and enhance the scholarships, programs, and facilities involved in educating the whole student—mind, body, and spirit. These experiences are, after all, the essence of an Austin College education.” The campaign goals specifically focus on scholarships, capital (facilities), and endowment growth.
The “fun part” as he said this morning, is the celebration of the successes that have brought the campaign to this stage.”We are so very thankful for each one of these gifts to Austin College,” the president said. “The generosity of our friends and alumni is quite amazing.”
He told the group of some of the gifts of the last 10 months:
- A $1.5 million gift from Robert and Joyce Johnson of McLean, Virginia, in support of Faith and Engagement and the Johnson Center for Faculty Development and Excellence in Teaching. Johnson is a member of the Class of 1953, a former chair of the Board of Trustees, and a current member of the senior board.
- A lead gift from Mary K. Grum of Lufkin, Texas, to renovate Wynne Chapel in honor of her late husband, Clifford Grum ’56, who was a devoted supporter of Austin College students throughout his lifetime and a longtime member of the College’s Board of Trustees.
- A $4 million gift from Nancy Bickel Bryant ’67 and her husband, Jerry Taylor, in support of STEM education. Students have already benefited from the instrumentation this gift has provided, and a STEM faculty chair and scholarships for physics majors are also part of that generous gift.
- A $7 million gift from The Morris Family Foundation of Fort Worth—the lead gift toward the renovation of the former Moody Science Center, which will become The Jack B. Morris Center for Business Studies.
The president had new milestones to announce as well:
- A $2 million gift from trustee Sally Nation ’64 and her husband, Jim, of Dallas, to renovate in 2019 Ida Green Communication Center’s lobby and main theatre, to be named Sally and Jim Nation Theatre. The renovation will include new seating as well as technical upgrades to lighting, sound, and audio visual systems. The lobby renovations will create a Learning Commons.
- A $9 million gift from the estate of Bill Richardson ’64 of Sherman, who had a long family legacy and personal history of support and advocacy of Austin College. His gift will endow four faculty chairs each named, at his request, “Bill Richardson Chair in Skeptical Thought.”
- A $1 million unrestricted and fully funded endowment gift from an anonymous donor.
An ambitious Athletics Master Plan with upgrades and enhancements of virtually all athletics facilities is another portion of the campaign. “I am very excited to announce our lead gift for athletics renovation,” President O’Day said:
- A $500,000 gift from the Jordan Family Foundation, continuing the family’s legacy of generosity to the College. The Jordan name has had a place in Austin College history since George R. Jordan graduated in 1915. The family has created the Jordan Family Language House, the President’s Suite in Caruth Administration Building, a substantial scholarship program that has benefited many students, and endowed two faculty chairs.
The president added that four alumni and their spouses had each given $50,000 or more toward athletics also:
- Thomas ’91 & Halley Ortiz
- Scott ’83 & Denise Austin
- Bill ’80 & Clyde Crook
- Rodney ’84 & Kim Moore
The Jordan Family gift and the individual alumni gifts will fully fund reconstruction of the competition tennis courts in the coming weeks, he said.
The final gift announcement from the president involved a challenge.
- A $500,000 matching challenge for scholarships from David ’65 and Judy Easterly of Atlanta, Georgia
“David Easterly and his wife, Judy, have put forward—for the second time in two years—a generous scholarship matching challenge,” President O’Day said. “They have agreed to match up to $500,000 this year for scholarships. For every dollar donated, David and Judy will match it TWO to one—with $1 toward immediate-use scholarships and $1 toward endowed scholarships. David and Judy believe in the power of Austin College and the importance of providing access to the education offered here.”
The president stressed the impact made by all alumni and friends of the College working together to make the POWER campaign successful. “Whatever size gift you make toward scholarships this year will effectively be tripled by the Easterly match,” President O’Day said. “I urge you to become involved in this scholarship match and the POWER Austin College campaign today. Every gift is important. Every gift has impact. Whatever size gift you make toward scholarships this year will effectively be tripled by the Easterly match!
Allison McBee Dawson ’03, vice president for Institutional Advancement, says more campaign news will be shared over the coming months. “We are proud of the progress we have made to date,” she said. “It was great to announce all the successes and ‘wow’ people with the big numbers, but there are a lot of dollars left to come in. Some of those will be big gifts. Many will be $25 or $50 or $100; those gifts are just as meaningful and can be just as generous. When all those gifts are put together, they have big impact.”
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with 46 percent of students identifying as persons of color. A residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. This year, the campus recognizes 100 years of co-education and has had several opportunities to recognize the history of women and accomplishments of current alumnae. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.