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Eckerd College Raises 50th Anniversary Capital Campaign Goal to $80 Million

posted on 11/17/2008

The highlight of the five-day celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Florida Presbyterian/Eckerd College was the announcement that the Board of Trustees raised Eckerd's 50th Anniversary Capital Campaign Goal to $80 million, the largest in Eckerd's history.

Many Experiences, One Spirit - The Campaign for Eckerd College

These past two years, in a five-year plan, Eckerd has been engaged in the "quiet phase" of a capital campaign to raise $75 million to support a number of priorities including scholarships, endowed professorships, spiritual life and the renovation of the Wireman Chapel, international study abroad programs, the arts, and science. In two years, Eckerd has raised $65 million toward its goal. Eckerd's Capital Campaign theme is Many Experiences, One Spirit: The Campaign for Eckerd College. Click here to visit the campaign Web site.

Funds for the construction of a new 51,000-square-foot science building and renovation of existing science facilities are the campaign's highest priorities as Eckerd raises the remaining $15 million of its goal. A well-designed science teaching facility will enhance interdisciplinary connections, foster student-faculty research, and accommodate the most recent advances in science education.

"Given the uncertainty in the economy in recent years, we are delighted with the success of the campaign so far," said President Donald R. Eastman III. "Despite the extreme downturn in September and October, we are extremely gratified that our donors are choosing to honor the commitments they have made and we are hopeful that friends will continue to hold Eckerd College high among their philanthropic priorities as we go forward."

The reasons positioning a new science building in the capital campaign are explained by Grover Wrenn '64, one of 154 members of the founding freshman class of Florida Presbyterian College and a recent donor of a $1 million gift, the largest gift by an alumnus. Mr. Wrenn has served continually on the Board of Trustees since 1990. He currently serves as vice chairman of the Board and chairman of the Capital Campaign.

"Eckerd is a powerhouse in the natural sciences," says Mr. Wrenn. "I was a chemistry major and by 1964, we had about 110 science majors. Now we have more than five times that number. Nearly 50% of our incoming students intend to major in science - twice the percentage of most other liberal arts colleges. This emphasis on science is not only due to our institutional DNA but also due to the result of the popularity of our nationally acclaimed program in marine science, which takes great advantage of our waterfront campus and easy access to Tampa Bay. We have a great faculty, exceptional curriculum and modern instrumentation and other science equipment. While 50 years may be young for a college, the same cannot be said for original science laboratory facilities."

Mr. Wrenn continues, "For all of these reasons, the Board of Trustees has determined that a new science center is a critical need and has made it the centerpiece of the public phase of our campaign. Several donors have already pledged support and we are grateful for that. These uncertain times in our national economy have led some to ask why we would undertake this mission at this moment. Well, some wondered the same thing when we began the quiet phase of our campaign just over two years ago. Part of the decision is based on data and part of it on faith. Our data have been confirmed and our faith has been rewarded. Having received more than $65 million in gifts and pledges so far we have a lot of momentum as we work to achieve our $80 million goal."

Other Weekend Highlights

- On Friday morning, the Eckerd College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to grant an early extension of the term of President Donald R. Eastman's contract from June 2011 to June 2014.

- Eckerd's Alumni Weekend 2008 drew more than 500 alumni and their families to campus. Two additional significant gift announcements were made:

1) Class of 1968 Class Gift Nears Half a Million Dollars ($500,000)
- This class gift is the first significant class gift made to Eckerd. Out of a total class of 213 living alumni (144 degreed and 69 non-degreed alumni), 93 (or 43.7%) members of the Class of 1968 have given thus far. The Class of 1968 class gift effort was led by History majors Sandy Ripberger '68 of Bradenton, Fla., and Charles Stripling '68 of Camilla, Ga.

2) Professor Wilbur Block Endowed Scholarship for Physics and Science Majors
Named in honor of Professor Emeritus Wilbur Block, who served on the faculty from 1965-1992, this newly endowed scholarship was established by Block's former students and formally announced by Robert R. "Ray" Hale '73 from Beaverton, Ore., at a breakfast and panel discussion that focused on science at Eckerd. Professor Block has been a father figure to Ray since he was his mentor during his college days.

- The 5-day celebration began on Wednesday, November 12, 2008. More than 1,400 people attended the College's programs with U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins and legendary biologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson.

- The formal 50th Anniversary program concluded on Sunday with two back-to-back performances of an all-Mozart choral concert featuring the Eckerd College Concert Choir and Eckerd's three internationally renowned alumni professional opera singers: Antonia Brown '78, Chris Trakas '78 and Anna Tonna '88. The 50th Anniversary Visual Arts Alumni Exhibition continues on campus through December 12.

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For interviews with Eckerd President Donald Eastman and Eckerd Trustee Grover Wrenn and for more information, please contact Alizza Punzalan-Hall, Director of Community and Media Relations at 727.631.2447.

Eckerd's News Center includes campaign announcements including gifts from local residents Tom and Mary James, Jean Giles Wittner, Helmar Nielsen, Martha Rudy Wallace, Bud and Fran Risser, Jeff and Sherry Fortune and the San Francisco-based Bernard Osher Foundation.

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