The College is scheduled to formally launch its $250 million capital campaign in Boston on Friday. Officials believe The Bowdoin Campaign will be the largest fundraising drive in Maine history.
William Torrey, senior vice president for planning and administration and chief development officer, said that Bowdoin is already "more than halfway there" to reaching the $250 million goal.
"You want at least 40 percent of the goal committed before you go public," Torrey said. "Our hope was 40 to 45 percent, so we're pleased where we are right now."
The exact amount raised to date will be announced at the kickoff at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on Friday evening.
"I want to save it to surprise people," he said.
The College is looking to raise $76,550,000 for financial aid, which Torrey said is "the hallmark of Bowdoin fundraising."
"Financial aid resounds more than any other single goal," he said, but noted that the categories to which donors allocate their money "all depends on the donor and what their interests are."
The College hopes to raise about $70 million for academic affairs, including funding for 12 new faculty positions. Torrey said donors have already committed funds for six of those positions.
The campaign also includes approximately $33 million for student affairs line items, including a new Center for the Common Good program and a new hockey rink. Other priority areas include funding for some building projects currently in progress, and operating budget support.
Torrey said that around 530 people will be at the launch, including about 35 student representatives and 25 to 30 faculty members. Alumni such as Geoffrey Canada '74, president and chief executive officer of the Harlem Children's Zone, and Stanley Druckenmiller '75, a billionaire investor, will also be in attendance. Torrey said former Senator George Mitchell '54 will not be in attendance, as he is currently in Europe.
As part of the evening program, students will perform a live show put together by Associate Professor of Theater Davis Robinson.
Associate Professor of Music Vineet Shende, along with Shawn Stewart '08 and a cappella groups Miscellania and the Meddiebempsters, recorded a remix of the alma mater and an accompanying music video, which will also premiere at the launch (see article, page 9).
"It's really designed to show people what Bowdoin is all about today," Torrey said.
Several faculty members will give presentations as part of "Voices from the Classroom" at the Seaport Hotel earlier in the day, with Dean of Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd giving the opening remarks.
Torrey, who has been at Bowdoin for 18 years and is involved in his third capital campaign, said that the College decided on Boston as this launch's location because many of the same people who attended the 1993 to 1998 campaign kickoff, which was held at Farley Field House, would also be going to this year's event. That campaign beat its $113 million goal by $23 million.
"[This launch is] the first one we've ever done off campus," he said. "We thought we would do something different."
The launch is the halfway point in the campaign, which began July 1, 2004, and ends June 30, 2009. It marks the transition from the "silent phase," in which Bowdoin solicits those "who know Bowdoin best," to the public announcement, Torrey said. The public phase, in which the College approaches a much broader group, lasts two-and-a-half years. Bowdoin uses a comparatively short five-year model for its campaigns in order to avoid burnout.
"It's the one that worked for us," Torrey said.
Last year, Bates College successfully completed its own capital campaign, which started in 2000 with a goal of $120 million. Colby College's own $235 million campaign kicked off in January.
Before beginning its campaign, Bowdoin's administrators had to formulate a list of priorities.
"The way these campaigns are essentially designed is you go through the planning stages, which takes about two years," he said. "You come up with an enormous total of things you'd love to have done."
Torrey said they next come up with the major components of the campaign to recommend to the board and "it all comes together with the recommendation to the trustees."
While Torrey said he did not know the amount being spent on the launch, he did say that the College is "on budget" and that Bowdoin spends 12 cents on the dollar for fundraising, compared to the national average of 15 cents for college and university fundraising.
Torrey noted that President Barry Mills has been essential in the fundraising process.
"Barry is tireless as a fundraiser," he said. "He's devoted an enormous amount of time to making sure this campaign is a success. He's very effective."
He also pointed to Deborah Jensen Barker '80 and Robert White '77, the campaign co-chairs, as crucial in the campaign's success.
"To commit five years of your life to helping Bowdoin make money is quite a sacrifice," Torrey said. "Most institutions would give their right hand to have people involved like this."
Barker, who is a trustee of the College, said she signed on to the role because she believes "so strongly in Bowdoin" and felt that it was the right time.
"The College is in very good shape right now," she said. "We were starting the campaign from a position of strength."
Barker said that people have been giving in "significant numbers," partly because they realize that with 85 percent of the money going to the endowment, "what we're trying to do is build for the future."
"I feel so strongly that Bowdoin needs to leave its door open to anyone who deserves to go here, regardless of their financial position," she said.
Torrey said that in his work, he "can count on one hand the number of people we've solicited who have said no."
"If you create a fair process of identifying what your priorities are, people will buy into that," he said.
Barker said that people are willing to give because they have a special bond with Bowdoin.
"It's changed all of us and shaped who we are," she said.
However, Barker noted that while a student at Bowdoin, she was unaware of the College's fundraising efforts.
"I had no idea that my tuition didn't cover the cost of my education," she said.
Torrey said that students are mostly "out of the loop" on fundraising efforts while they are at Bowdoin, but "without the support we couldn't be who we are."
He added, "It's not a bad thing that every 10 years we talk about the role fundraising plays in a place like this."