Lawrence University has been conducting a “Be the Light” campaign for the past several years in order to raise funds for the university. It launched six years ago with the goal of raising $220 million, primarily for Lawrence’s endowment fund. Just last week this campaign attained a major milestone of $200 million. This money has been used to meet various goals through the years, including the Lawrence Fund and its Campus Renewal project.
The $200 million has primarily come from over 15,000 individual alumni donors. While most of the funding has come from donations over $2 million, there have also been about 14,000 gifts of less than $50, equating to almost half a million dollars. This, according to Vice President for Alumni and Development Cal Husmann, “Demonstrates that every gift makes a difference.” And this is crucial for the true goal of Be the Light. It is to allow students to graduate Lawrence with less debt but a full liberal arts college experience. As of right now Lawrence matches over $30 million in financial aid, allowing many lower income students to attend who would previously have been barred for financial reasons.
The other aspects of the campaign are focused on campus renewal. This has allowed for increased investment in the Center for Academic Success, more money into athletics and deep renovations into many residence halls. For example, Sage Hall, in just the past few years, saw its kitchen redone and lofts created in the basement. Colman Hall saw the construction of a modern lounge, new kitchen and all of its lofts. Kohler Hall will probably be the next target for renovation with better bathrooms in the coming years.
The Be the Light campaign is scheduled to end in November, and they need about $17 million to hit their full goal in about 10 months. While that does sound far-fetched, Husmann thinks that thanks to this major milestone, the campaign will pick up the much needed momentum to push it through its final year. While Lawrence has always taken flak for being expensive, this campaign’s success will hopefully help alleviate that financial burden for future generations of Lawrentians.