Stay Ahead of the Competition
“No winner can hope to stay ahead of the competition by standing still,” said Emporia State University President, Robert E. Glennen in February 1994 while announcing the beginning of Campaign 2000. The University was seeking more than $25 million in a five-year period to fund five specific areas of education. In less than four years the University exceeded its goal with gifts of more than $26 million in capital and endowment dollars.
Emporia State University (ESU) was founded in 1863 as the Kansas State Normal School to prepare teachers. ESU, one of six institutions in the Kansas Board of Regents system, has an enrollment of more than 5,000 students. The success of Campaign 2000 assured the continuation of the University’s national and international profiles in Education and Library and Information Management and stimulated other programs to develop their own reputations for excellence.
Campaign 2000 represented an opportunity to secure necessary financial resources for student quality and diversity, teaching excellence, educational foundations for the future, serving the citizens of Kansas, and physical plant.
Student Quality and Diversity
To continue to meet the needs of its students, the University was seeking scholarships to recruit and retain academically, artistically and athletically talented students. Funding was needed to enhance specific academic programs, grants to give special students the chance at a higher education, and assistance to expand education beyond the normal classroom setting.
Attracting and retaining an outstanding faculty and staff is essential. Not only does the most fundamental mission provide classroom instruction of the highest possible caliber, but it also helps enhance the University’s reputation among its peers and the general public.
Educational Foundations for the Future
The entire campus needed to be connected through fiber optics and then linked to offer networks – school districts in Kansas and throughout the nation, other Kansas Board of Regents institutions, and vital database networks around the world. This goal was met with a state-of-the-art computer lab installed in the English department.
Dr. Russ Meyers, a professor in the English department at ESU, commented, “I have spent eight years at two different universities trying to get such a computer lab/classroom. I thought it would take four to five years, but we got it within one year. What I have been struggling to do for eight years, we did in one year at Emporia State University. We now have state-of-the-art equipment and software for our journalism students.”
Serving the Citizens of Kansas
A key component of Emporia State University’s mission is to serve the needs of Kansas citizens in specific areas outside the classroom. Since its inception, ESU has sought and fostered partnerships with schools and businesses to recognize individual excellence, protect and promote innovative programs unique to this region, and establish centers for excellence in areas that support the University’s mission.
Some programs at ESU had outgrown their facilities and many existing facilities needed maintenance, repair, renovation and upgrading. The quality of facilities – whether in the classroom, laboratory, library or rehearsal hall – and the learning environment affected the quality of instruction.
Trustees also wanted to provide an opportunity to add dimension to ESU’s reputation and public perception, in terms of both geographic orientation and academic focus. Campaign 2000 let more people in on the well-kept secret that ESU is a diverse and contemporary institution of higher learning with much to offer students and faculty who prefer the benefits of an intimate learning environment. Although the total needs of the University far exceeded the items selected for funding, the Trustees were uncomfortable setting a $25 million goal because of the psychological hurdle. Past impressions still shadowed ESU’s vision for the future.
Robert Swanson, President of Kinetic Companies, served two years as the director of development and one year as CEO of the Emporia State University Foundation. Swanson explained, “We found the local community supported the campaign, but many people shared a skepticism similar to that held by the Trustees. ESU was established as the teachers college for Kansas in 1863. We produce great teachers, but they obviously do not generate the same wealth during their lifetimes as doctors and lawyers.”
Campaign 2000 also changed the management and organization of the Emporia State University Foundation. The positive growing pains and restructuring that resulted from Campaign 2000’s success increased employees at the Foundation from four to 10.
Kimera Maxwell served as the Foundation’s CEO for much of the campaign. “With our consultant’s guidance, Campaign 2000 forged valuable relationships between the institution and its donors and we realized how good stewardship of these relationships can play a critical role in future planning.
Emporia State University overcame temptations of self-doubt and instead, took bold steps to secure a vision of growth and a reputation of excellence.
Campaign 2000 not only added finances, it laid a foundation for future success.