Ripon College Launches $50 Million Campaign

Ripon College launched the public phase of its Imagine Tomorrow comprehensive campaign tonight, announcing that $35 million of the stated $50 million campaign goal has been raised since 2010.

“Ripon has had such a positive and important influence on the lives and careers of so many people,” said President Zach Messitte. “The commitment of our alumni, faculty, staff and students to the future of the College is our great strength and the reason we are cautiously optimistic about completing our $50 million goal.” Messitte told the crowd of more than 100 alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students gathered at the campaign kickoff at the Woman’s Club of Wisconsin (813 E. Kilbourn Ave, Milwaukee, Wis).

“This campaign helps push Ripon into a new place in higher education,” he said. “Our Board has very wisely directed the campaign toward continuing to build our endowment, bolstering scholarships for the best and brightest students and enhancing our faculty’s resources. These are the essential building blocks of Ripon’s future.”

Imagine Tomorrow Campaign Chair Dena Willmore (’67) added, “This campaign is off to a very fast start, exceeding each milestone we have set. It is just one confirmation that many believe as I do: that Ripon College is more than a fine educational institution. It is a community that supports each of its members – students, faculty, staff and alums — as we strive to be the best we can be. It, thus, is deserving of our full support with our treasure, our time and our talent.” Willmore is a retired partner and senior vice president of Wellington Management Co. who now lives in rural Buckland, Mass.

The Imagine Tomorrow comprehensive campaign is the largest campaign in the private college’s history. The leadership phase began in 2010; the campaign is on pace to conclude in 2015. Campaign funds will support new scholarships for students; faculty and student research; off-campus study opportunities; efforts to attract and retain faculty, and enhance facilities.

“At the outset of this effort, we envisioned a broader group of alumni and friends establishing endowed funds—funds that would exist in perpetuity—so that both today’s and future generations of students would benefit from a Ripon education and understand the importance of philanthropy,” said Robert J. Kirkland (’81) of Chicago, Ill., chair of the Ripon College Board of Trustees. “To date, the Imagine Tomorrow campaign has done just this—engaged a number of alumni in securing the College’s future and created opportunities for other alumni to participate in this effort. In recognizing those who have given to the campaign, I invite—indeed urge—other alumni and friends to be part of this important campaign for Ripon’s future.”

During the leadership phase of the campaign, the College brought in more than $35 million in gifts over 2.5 years, including a gift of nearly $4 million in unrestricted funds from the C.B. (’31) and Elizabeth J. Wegner estate – one of the largest individual gifts in Ripon College history. Other notable gifts thus far, include:

  • The Franklin C. Brewster Jr. (’65) estate, given in memory of former faculty member Raymond Stahura to support the teaching of music and former faculty member Dino Zei to support the teaching of physics.
  • Establishment of the Doreen L. (’73) and David I. Chemerow Chair in Theatre.
  • Establishment of the Suzanne and Richard Pieper Family Foundation Chair in Religion and Servant Leadership.
  • Sixteen newly established endowed scholarship funds and additional gifts to many currently existing scholarship funds.
  • Establishment of the Robert J. Kirkland (’81) Fund for Faculty Development and Student Research.
  • Establishment of the Mark (’83) and Janice (’83) Franzen Fund for Student Research.
  • Establishment of the endowed Presidential Staff Awards to recognize outstanding job performance across five areas critical to the mission of Ripon College.
  • Establishment of the Victoria Bleise (’73) Endowment for Student Health and Wellness.
  • Establishment of the K. G. “Doc” Weiske ’50 and Robert G. Gillespie Endowed Fund for Athletics, thanks to a challenge gift by Steven Hopp (’83).
  • Generous support of the Annual Fund to help support scholarships, general facility maintenance, and faculty and staff salaries.
  • Recent renovations to the College’s Pickard Commons’ private dining rooms, Lane Library and J.M. Storzer Athletic Center.

For more information about the Imagine Tomorrow comprehensive campaign and ways to get involved, please visit the Imagine Tomorrow campaign page.

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