Extraordinary campaign raises aspirations

The historic Extraordinary Opportunities Campaign is closing in on $98 million, well beyond the goal of $92 million and unprecedented for a small liberal arts college in Iowa. Gifts are building the endowment, renovating and expanding facilities, enhancing academics, and increasing the Annual Fund to allow the college to plan confidently.

Becky Martin McClennan '64 and Bob McClennan '65 talk with former presidential advisor David Gergen during a reception before the 2010 Delta Phi Rho lecture.
Becky Martin McClennan ’64 and Bob McClennan ’65 talk with former presidential advisor David Gergen during a reception before the 2010 Delta Phi Rho lecture.

An exciting development in the campaign came in December with the announcement that Trustee Bob McLennan ’65 and Becky Martin McLennan ’64 of Chicago have pledged $1 million to establish the McLennan Center in Chicago, a Cornell College satellite facility that will accommodate off-campus courses. The McLennans also envision the campus servicing Cornell’s expansive alumni population in Chicago.

“We have a significant number of alumni in Chicago, and I think a physical presence brings Cornell closer to them. The college is no longer 200 miles away; it’s right here,” said Bob McLennan.

In January Gilda Vinzulius Boyer ’84 and her Cornell classmate and husband, Barry Boyer ’84, pledged $50,000 as a way to give back for a new generation of students. Their gift is unrestricted and will be used where it is most needed for the campaign.

An unusual $100,000 challenge grant from the State Historical Society was announced in March for the King Chapel restoration project. The Historic Site Preservation Grant will fund repairs to the chapel’s roof, walls, and masonry. Roof beams that connect the east and west walls have shifted, causing cracks. Those problems also mean the roof tiles, shingles, and flashing need to be replaced. The roof is being replaced this summer.

More recent gifts include an additional $250,000 from trustee John McGrane ’73 and Marty Benson McGrane ’73 for renovations of the President’s House, and $25,000 from Sydney Smith Hicks ’69 for the Career Center in The Commons, in honor of her parents, David W. and Elizabeth A. Smith. Tom Sears ’56 and his wife, Margaret Sears, pledged $200,000 to create an endowed scholarship for Kirkwood Community College students transferring to Cornell. Tom Sears is professor emeritus in the social sciences department at the Cedar Rapids community college. The scholarship is for transfer students who are members of Phi Theta Kappa, the nation’s premier honor society for two-year colleges.

Students are benefiting

The Extraordinary Opportunities campaign has changed Cornell College. Facilities have improved, academic programming has expanded, and the endowment has grown. As a result the college has higher aspirations. And students are the ultimate beneficiaries.

As the Class of 2010 prepared to leave the Hilltop, President Garner noted that many of them cited as their extraordinary opportunities the programs made possible by the campaign. They frequently listed life-changing experiences through Cornell Fellows, Dimensions, the Berry Center, and International and Off-Campus Studies. The first of these programs has now placed 150 Fellows around the world.

Capital projects have modernized the campus. Pfeiffer Hall, the venerable 1930 residence, was made new again. The Peter Paul Luce Admission Center and the Scott Alumni Center gave new life to Wade House and Rood House, and allow the college to put its best foot forward for prospective students and alumni.

The Commons has had several upgrades, and awaits full funding before a complete renovation and an expansion that will increase the building by 28 percent. A new roof will soon shelter King Chapel, which also awaits full funding before the building shell is shored up and an elevator installed.

The campaign ends June 30. Watch for a full report of the campaign’s impact in the fall Cornell Report.