College sets goals for the UConn Capital Campaign
By Nancy P. Weiss
Could there be a college in a better position than the UConn College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to harness the energy and enthusiasm of alumni, faculty and stakeholders to meet the challenges of the 21st century?
Not according to Dean Greg Weidemann and director of development Amy Hanaburgh, who recently discussed the campaign’s progress so far and plans for the future as a major fundraising program begins. With half the goal already accounted for, they are optimistic.
As the University of Connecticut gears up for the largest fundraising campaign in its history, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has made major strides toward meeting its goal of $14 million.
“The support of our alumni, faculty and stakeholders is an important indicator of the relevance and value of our programs. However, this extends beyond collegial and public acknowledgement. Forty-three percent of the dollars raised to date come from our alumni,” said Weidemann. “Our top ten individual donors are all alumni and former faculty.”
Director of development Amy Hanaburgh, herself an alumna, applauded the response to the campaign so far and indicated her optimism about reaching the $14 million goal.
“I think we are well positioned going into this campaign. We built strong partnerships during the quiet phase to help reach our goals. Overall, it is our alumni who have been and continue to be our most loyal supporters. The dollars show that,” Hanaburgh says with a broad smile.
Weidemann and Hanaburgh have good reason to be optimistic. The top campaign gift made in what is called the “quiet phase,” was from an anonymous donor. The alumnus and former faculty member created a fully endowed scholarship and finalized a planned gift to create the first endowed chair in the College. The chair, which will be in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, is funded with a gift of $1.6 million.
In citing other major donors, Weidemann thanked Nancy and David Bull for their professional and volunteer support as well as for their gifts to the 4-H Centennial Fund and the David and Nancy Bull CES Innovation Fund, which is part of their estate plans.
He also applauded faculty and staff for support of the Close to Home Campaign, the faculty and staff giving program. Several faculty members were singled out for efforts they made to secure special gifts or to steward contributions to the College that have been made through the years or on a continuing basis.
“Extension programs are one focus in the campaign. We plan to use the campaign to highlight the presence of UConn Extension programs across the state and in our communities. It’s important for the public to know that when they support the College they support the services they enjoy and depend on,” said Hanaburgh.
Weidemann cited support from alumnus Roger Newton, alumnus Clinton Charter; the late Hazel Pierrepont Jacoby; Dr Ronald Fletcher and his wife, Barbara; the Diebold Foundation; Norm and Wynnie Freyer; Dick and Barbara DelFavero; and the late Dr. Al Cowan as the top ten donors to date. Weidemann said that the College is honored to have received from the family and friends of alumnus James V. Spignesi Jr. and the members of the Connecticut Conservation Officers Association a commitment in Jim’s memory to create a President’s Challenge Award for graduate students over the next four years, this in addition to the James V. Spignesi, Jr. Memorial Scholarship they have already established.
A strategic plan for the future of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources helps fuel giving. Scholarship support, especially for undergraduate education including internships and international experiences, is one of the priorities as well as the Connecticut Cooperative Extension System http://www.extension.uconn.edu/, which reaches across the state to every community. Support for faculty, especially funding for endowed chairs and graduate assistantships, will help the College attract the best faculty and graduate students.
The College continues to attract strong support from state and federal research awards. Specific areas of excellence, including plant and animal biotechnology, horticulture, land use planning, environmental sustainability and food marketing are areas of strength in programming. Under Weidemann’s leadership, nationally prominent programs will be developed in environmental and agricultural sustainability, nutrition, health and food safety.
Added Hanaburgh, “I’ve watched other programs struggle in this economy. I think the commitment we are seeing from alumni, stakeholders and faculty is such a strong indicator of how important our programs are from the northwest corner of the state to the inner city. Our programs touch everyone’s life.”