WC Forge a Legacy ends months early

By Cassy Sottile and Erica Quinones

News Editors

After 31 months of campaigning, the Forge a Legacy initiative closed six months early. Slated to end in June 2020, the campaign ended this past December after surpassing its goals.

The record-breaking push to raise $150 million began in May 2017 under former President Sheila Bair. The program sought to build on momentum from the $85 million Washington College raised between July 2012 and May 2017, according to a May 12, 2017 newsletter.

“We are not done accounting the [Forge a Legacy] money, but there is around a $7 million excess,” Vice President for Advancement, Alumni Affairs and Relations Susie Chase said. 

There was a general sense that the goal of the campaign would be difficult to achieve, according to President Kurt Landgraf. 

“The Advancement House and the Board of Visitors and Governors deserve a lot of credit for this campaign. We exceeded the expectations of [former] President Bair,” Landgraf said.

A significant portion of the funds for Forge a Legacy stemmed from the Board of Visitors and Governors and the Hodson Trust.

The campaign raised approximately 40% of its funding from the Board of Visitors and Governors while the Hodson Trust provided substantial scholarships, according to Landgraf.

“The Trust is ending soon, and will pay out in the next three years, all of which will go to scholarships and funding,” Landgraf said. 

Funding for programs like scholarships apply back to the goals of the campaign, which desired to address four founding pillars: Access and Affordability, Faculty Excellence, Student Engagement, and the Learning Environment.

Landgraf and Chase agreed that the campaign fulfilled those goals through its various allotments.

When people donate to an initiative, they choose where that money applies in order to “fund their passions,” according to Chase.

Addressing those thematic pillars was done through both the efforts of the College and the donors’ understandings of WC’s mission.

Donation allotments that met those goals included, in addition to scholarships, areas like room and board fees, as well as internship stipends, which make the College more affordable for students. 

According to a Dec. 17 newsletter, Forge a Legacy raised $38.44 million in endowed and annual scholarships.

Likewise, the Washington Scholars program, which is also funded partially through Forge a Legacy, helps intensify diversity on campus by creating opportunities for disadvantaged students to attend WC, according to Landgraf.

Other projects working towards the remaining pillars include new facilities such as the Cromwell Center, the Hodson Boathouse, the Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall, the Eastern Shore Food Lab, and the River and Field Campus.

Forge a Legacy donations also support faculty projects and research, experiential learning, study abroad programs, and career planning, according to the Dec. 17 newsletter. 

There are also hidden ways the results of the campaign affects students on campus, such as the growth of the College’s endowment, which grew from $200 million to approximately $229 million, according to Chase.

Director of College Communications Wendy Clarke said that the initiative also boosts WC’s ratings by encouraging increased alumni participation in reports like the U.S. News.

Landgraf believes that the College will raise three points in the U.S. News report of college rankings. 

The effects go beyond WC’s campus, however, as the development of the waterfront campus helped foster a relationship between the College and Chestertown.

“It really raises up and celebrates two things about WC that I think are extraordinary — our size … and our location,” Chase said. “Where we are, our size and our proximity to the Chester River … those are things you cannot replicate anywhere else.”

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