To the casual observer, launching a capital campaign as we recover from the recent deep recession appears ill advised. With unemployment coming off the highest level in decades, foreclosures declining but continuing to force families from their homes and industrial giants reorganizing under bankruptcy protection, it would appear to be the worst possible time to seek private support from alumni, friends, corporations and foundations.
But in a very real sense, this is the best possible time to launch such a campaign. Every lifetime contains an opportunity where leaders with foresight can step forward to walk where others fear to tread. By their example, they restore confidence in the future and renew their determination to rebuild an economy and transform lives.
Such is the case with The Power of Transformation, the campaign for the University of North Florida. The $110 million capital campaign has many goals presenting numerous opportunities for community involvement and civic participation. Yes, the campaign will further transform UNF into an outstanding institution of higher learning. The campaign provides a clear focus on area needs and specific accountability measures to make sure they are achieved. But the real goal is not to transform an institution. It is to transform the lives of our students, many of whom face significant personal challenges and sacrifices before even setting foot on our campus.
The students in turn transform the communities in which they will live. They will revitalize the economy with the skills needed in a highly competitive global marketplace. Recessions come and go, but building communities is an ongoing venture, one that requires committed leaders and dedicated citizens who understand the importance of education as the lifeblood of an economy.
Florida’s tourist-linked economy has been particularly hit hard by this recession. But this makes economic diversification all the more important. It also underscores the importance of launching initiatives such as The Power of Transformation without delay.
A quick look at the following list of priorities of this campaign illustrates the varied opportunities to transform a life.
Student Scholarships - $29.5 million
To continue funding for The Jacksonville Commitment, First Generation Scholarships and other forms of financial assistance
Graduate Fellowships - $5.9 million
To encourage motivated professionals to pursue advanced studies in fields essential to the economy of our region
Faculty Support - $20.6 million
To enhance the ability to recruit and retain talented faculty providing individual attention and quality academics for our students
Academic Enhancements - $28.7 million
To enable departments throughout the University to fulfill UNF’s mission of providing excellent undergraduate and graduate programs, centers and institutes with transformational experiences in this country and abroad
Capital Projects - $25.3 million
To assure new campus buildings and educational tools critical to maintaining a stimulating learning environment for an ever-growing student population
These are more than simply numbers on a page. They are the keys to taking a thriving, dynamic University to the next level of excellence. The stories within this issue illustrate the various ways this campaign will transform the lives of our students, the outlook for our economy and the future of our region.
The issue also illustrates how the University’s previous successful campaign, Access to Excellence, fulfilled its promises to students who are now outstanding alumni in vital careers. That campaign, from 1997 to 2003, set out to raise $65 million for the University. The campaign eventually raised more than $100 million from 11,000 donors, including 25 gifts of $1 million or more. Among other accomplishments, the successful campaign created more than 180 new scholarships for UNF students.
The bottom line of the new campaign is the same as the first campaign – helping students. This campaign will build upon the success of the University’s first major fund-raising initiative. It will harness the power of a young University in a vibrant region to capture the momentum for a limitless future at a time of economic challenges.
Now, more than ever, is the right time to show The Power of Transformation .