Thanks to You, We’re Almost There!

October, 2004

by Angela Matthews, Director of Development

8-131Research in fund raising tells us the number one reason individuals give is because someone asked them. That is confirmed at Plymouth State University by the fundraising volunteers for the Expanding Our Reach campaign. “When we got started with the President’s Council in 2001 I couldn’t have predicted the outcome,” said Wally Stevens ’62, council chair. “We knew there was untapped potential and we were ready to ask.”

That’s all it took. The intrepid group of 16 alumni and friends who gathered on December 4, 2001 set an aggressive goal for the five-year, $5 million Expanding Our Reach campaign. Today, just three years later, $4.3 million has been raised from pledges, planned gifts and corporate, foundation and government grants to support the annual fund, capital projects and endowments. The President’s Council has received the unqualified support of hundreds of volunteers working on one or more projects related to campaign goals—to double the endowment, to equip Boyd Science Center, for capital projects in the performing and visual arts, and to enhance the appearance of the entrance to PSU.

PSU volunteers cover the country from coast to coast. The Ground Breakers, a committee of 25 volunteers at PSU, has raised almost $200,000 from faculty and staff. The classes of 1946, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1952, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1975, 1998 and 2004 have established volunteer committees to raise funds for endowments or capital projects, including an initiative to purchase a life-size bronze sculpture of Robert Frost for the new entrance to campus.

Boyd Science Center re-opened on schedule, with state-of-the-art labs and classrooms funded from campaign contributions. A grant from the Verizon Foundation funded an inflatable traveling planetarium dome and portable projector, which will be made available to schools throughout New Hampshire. Two grants from the Lakes Region Charitable Foundation supported retreats for science faculty and administrators to meet with representatives of local environmental organizations to chart the future of PSU’s new Center for the Environment. Steve Kahl, the center’s first director and former director of the George Mitchell Center for the Environment at the University of Maine, comes to PSU with the highest commitment to incorporating research into outreach, and emphasizing student training in practical, applied, policy-relevant research.

A new strength and conditioning room, the Vailas Performance Center, was added at the PE Center through a challenge gift from Nick ’76 and MaryAnn Vailas. Matching support comes from the brothers of TKE—also supporting a TKE endowed scholarship —and athletes of the PSU Hall of Fame, led by Meg Hendy ’79 and Doug Wisemann ’61. The Silver Cultural Arts Center received a new sound board and, with a gift from Northeast Delta Dental, a new orchestra pit cover. An SCAC mini-campaign, launched in September 2004, will seek support for new lighting, carpeting and production equipment.

A generous gift from Richard (R.E.) Collins funded the construction of a new art gallery on the second floor of the Draper Maynard building. Expressly for the display of student work, the Collins Gallery offers students in the B.F.A. program countless opportunities to exhibit and grow as artists in pursuit of their profession.

Gifts from the Pemi Choral Society and the PSU Chamber Singers were matched by the campaign pledges and PSU Annual Fund to purchase new choral risers. The PSU business department received support this year from Barry Ross ’73 who established a scholarship endowment, and Mike Porreca ’75 who is sponsoring a laptop program for students with financial need.

The work continues. With the help of John ’85 and Bonnie Manion, and Gerald ’92 and Karen Beaulieu, Susan Kline ’74 and Sean Butler hosted a “Ragin’ Cajun” party in October at their Huntington Beach home to raise funds from Southern California alumni toward a garden for the Frost bronze. Robin Hudnut, Frost’s granddaughter, has also offered to host a reception for this purpose at her home in Tiburon, off the coast of San Francisco. On the east coast, John Clement ’59 is hosting a reception at his home in New York City for alumni who live or work in the city, and Roberta ’61 and Gene ’62 Stearns hosted an alumni luncheon for southeast New Hampshire.

In addition to current gifts, grants and pledges, PSU is the beneficiary of bequests, life insurance, trusts and annuities. This year Joe ’68 and Gail Heffernan ’66 White established a trust that will someday fund an endowment at PSU to support the activities they cared about and enjoyed as students in the 1960s. Joe, a geography major, and Gail, an education major, met when both were members of Plymouth Players and have been together ever since. Joe and Gail have been active members of the PSU Alumni Association; at the 2003 Alumni Day luncheon Joe was given the Distinguished Alumni Service Award recognizing his years of service to the Association. Through the creation of the trust, the Whites have become members of the PSU Heritage Society.

These are just a few of the countless stories of projects and programs supported by contributions to PSU in 2004. In total, PSU received $786,022 in gifts from 2,624 alumni, friends, foundations and corporations—a 13 percent increase in the number of donors this year. Alumni giving accounted for 47 percent of total contributions in 2004.

“We intend to continue to build on this growth in interest in PSU,” said Stevens, “especially among our alumni who have a special stake in the future of this institution. Obviously, our gifts add value for today’s students, and to the reputation of the institution. That affects us and our degrees too. It would be great to see the number of donors jump again next year. Every one of us can make a difference no matter what the size of our individual gift.”

The accompanying graphs further explain the purposes for which the gifts received in 2004 were designated. For more information, contact Angela Matthews at

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