University initiative raises $71.7 M for students

A campaign for students that raised more than $71 million officially closed Oct. 12, three years after its introduction.

The Hold Thy Banner High campaign raised approximately $11 million more than the originally intended $60 million goal. The initial charge of the project made it the largest fundraising operation in the University’s history.

Prior to launching the public phase of the campaign, it raised more than $41 million.

The money will go primarily to scholarships, stipends and academic programs for students.

The Hold Thy Banner High campaign exceeded its goal of raising $60 million one year before its original deadline in June 2011.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said the campaign was in the works for several years and yielded great success.

“We dubbed it as the campaign for students,” Robertson said. “Over half the dollars being raised is going to student scholarships.”

He said it was a very significant campaign and is significant to students because it will result in helping students attend Murray State.

“For some students, without this campaign, they might not be able to come here,” Robertson said. “That’s where the bulk of the money is going to go. It’s been a broad-based campaign. Alumni have responded very positively.”

The dedications of the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business, Heritage Hall, the Hall of Benefactors and Distinguished Alumni, the campaign closing reception dinner and the campaign closing after party all took place Oct. 12.

At the closing reception, Robert Valentine, senior lecturer in the College of Business, reprised his character of Rainey T. Wells, recognized founder of Murray State, who was first debuted during the University’s 90th anniversary celebration. Valentine gave a speech in character and finished by announcing the campaign raised $71,730,610.41 total.

President Randy Dunn said the money raised was from a compilation of more than 100,000 individual gifts and 23,000 distinct donors.

Bob Jackson, associate vice president of Institutional Advancement, said he wanted the campaign to focus on students, academic quality and advancing the University – to take the University to the next level.

“Five years ago we were giving approximately $800,000 to students in privately funded scholarships,” Jackson said. “Today, we’re almost giving $1.6 million.”

He said much of the money donated went to academic enhancement, supporting laboratory research equipment in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology. For example, one donor gifted $1 million for research and lab equipment for Jesse D. Jones Hall, the chemistry building.

“There are a lot of initiatives put in place to enhance academic quality and ensure that we make this already great University, a little bit better,” Jackson said.

He said the alumni and friends of the University know that giving back to Murray is a wise investment.

Jackson said the planning of the quiet phase of the campaign began in 2005. Campaign coordinators began asking potential large donors for contributions.

He said the University received a lead gift of $3.6 million from Jesse D. Jones, alumnus of 1964.

Jones said he was honored to be a part of the campaign and glad to see his donations positively impact students.

ACRES, the Agriculture Campaign for Research and Education of Students, is a part of the Hold Thy Banner High campaign and came to a conclusion on Oct. 14.

The initiative was created to raise $1.5 million to aid in acquiring a new 150-250 acre research and laboratory farm and other improvements for the Hutson School of Agriculture.

The campaign ended by exceeding its original goal and raised $2.1 million in total.

Written by Meghann Anderson, Assistant News Editor