Message from President Jeffrey Herbst

As we celebrate the extraordinary conclusion of Passion for the Climb: The Campaign for Colgate, I have often reflected on how apt our chosen theme turned out to be. At its heart,
the story of our campaign is about Colgate people — and how this loyal and steadfast community pulled together during a very difficult time in our nation’s history to uplift the next generation.
    At this college on a hill, Colgate people have always cared as much about the ascendance itself as they do about reaching the top. Every Passion for the Climb supporter made a commitment to helping the next band of Colgate climbers to move — as the spirited Colgate song “In 1819” reminds us — “up the hill with profound determination” in pursuit of their academic, professional, and personal endeavors.

photo by Janna Minehart ’13
    And profound determination would be demanded.
    When Colgate set out to fund its multifaceted strategic plan through the campaign, the nation was enjoying an economic boom. The university had set its sights high, with goals that were both deep and broad: to raise $400 million to enhance research, teaching, and leadership programs; fortify the campus infrastructure; and build the endowment and our capacity to award financial aid to deserving students. Little did anyone know of the financial meltdown that would ensue just 18 months after the campaign’s public launch.
    In the midst of a worldwide recession, when many respectable institutions scaled back their campaign targets, Colgate’s remarkable alumni, parents, and friends continued to step up. In fact, when we reached our original summit 18 months in advance, we set new goals, including another $40 million for financial aid, and climbed beyond those as well. That support speaks volumes about the historic loyalty of our community. It is an expression of allegiance to our deepest values, our people, and our mission.
    You helped us to reach a total of $480 million, including $141.5 million for financial aid. The second-largest campaign ever by an American liberal arts university, Passion for the Climb exceeded the total raised in all five of Colgate’s previous campaigns combined.
    On behalf of so many, I want to extend my thanks to everyone in the Colgate community who took part in this historic and profound endeavor. Again recalling “In 1819,” your generosity lives “true to the mem’ry of those 13 men of yore … to strive as they strove then.”
    Beyond your financial support, many of you gave of your time, from serving as volunteer gift agents, to hosting gatherings, to attending events. In particular, the university owes a great debt to our volunteer campaign chairs, Jim Elrod ’76 and Denis Cronin ’69, for their dedicated leadership and monumental efforts on behalf of their alma mater.
    I would also like to acknowledge Vice President Murray Decock ’80 and his staff in institutional advancement for their tireless dedication and enthusiasm in stewarding the important relationships between Colgate and its many supporters.
    A word on the vision and leadership of my predecessor, Rebecca Chopp, who rallied so many members of the community to craft a purposeful, comprehensive, and forward-thinking strategic plan and to develop this expansive campaign to fund its ambitions: she raised great expectations for a great university — not to merely stay competitive, but also to become the nation’s leading liberal arts institution.
    Much has been given, and much promised. The full impact of this campaign will continue to be felt far into the future. But it is much more than beating a financial goal, or reaching a summit. What truly matters are the results you can see and feel on the campus and in its people each and every day. Although this issue of the Scene brings this story to life most overtly, everything at Colgate has been touched in some way. Long after the campaign celebrations, a passion for the climb will remain a part of our DNA.