Columbus State University Celebrates Historic $120 Million Campaign
Newswise — COLUMBUS, Ga. - Columbus State University is celebrating the conclusion of its “First Choice Comprehensive Capital Campaign.” The campaign surpassed its $100 million goal with approximately $120 million from 8,000 alumni and community donors. Launched in 2012, this is the second $100 million campaign completed in CSU’s 60-year history.
“The successful completion of this campaign is a historic moment for CSU and Columbus,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “It demonstrates the level of commitment to supporting quality education and Columbus State’s role developing the future leaders of this region and internationally. For a university of our size and age receiving such support – not once, but twice – is an extraordinary example of public and private partnerships working together.”
Of those who donated to the campaign, 40% - nearly 3,200 donors were alumni, giving a collective total of more than $17 million. Another 52% - more than 4,200 donors - were non-alumni individuals, giving a total of more than $55 million. Approximately 4,700 new contributors accounted for more than half of all donors, with 60% being first-time donors and 55% being new donors who graduated after the campaign began. While 71% of donors were from Georgia, donations came from all 50 states and 12 foreign countries. Approximately $94 million were cash, pledges, and planned gifts, and $24 million were in-kind gifts, property or related income.
Many of the donors, such as CSU 1993 alumna Jamie Lee, have personal connections to the university. During the campaign, Lee, a former CSU softball player, and her husband, Grady, created a new Lady Cougars Softball Scholarship Endowment as an opportunity to give back to their alma mater. Lee, now the Senior Vice President and Chief Service Officer at Aflac, credits her success to the scholarship support and character development she experienced as a teammate on the softball field at CSU.
Corporations and foundations, which accounted for 8% of the campaign’s donors, also played a crucial role in the campaign’s success. Foundations contributed more than $29 million, corporations more than $14 million, and organizations nearly $1 million. Columbus businesses such as Synovus, TSYS, Pezold Management Group, W.C. Bradley were among the corporate supporters.
In addition to incredible financial support, the campaign would not have been successful if it weren’t for the extraordinary time commitments made by the CSU Board of Trustees. The campaign was chaired by Phil Tomlinson, who was presented the Tower Society Distinguished Service Award for his incredible efforts in leading the campaign to new levels of success.
For more statistics on donors, please click here.
Among the highlights of the campaign’s extraordinary impact on students is the creation of 42 new endowed scholarships, which account for $9 million in donations from the campaign. One of the new scholarships is the Virmani Family Scholarship, which offers support to full-time undergraduate students within CSU’s College of Letters and Sciences. Another is the Wayne and Stella Starks Scholarship Endowment within CSU’s D. Abbott Turner College of Business. These are just two of the many examples of new scholarships created across all of CSU’s colleges and departments.
“As an honors college student, I’m fortunate enough to be a recipient of an undergraduate scholarship,” said Gabe Bello, whose scholarship is funded with one of the endowments. “It has allowed me to dedicate myself towards making sure I take the most advantage of my time while I’m here. I’ve had the opportunity to do research work with my professors that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do if it weren’t for the funding options that I have. It has helped me build up myself and make sure I’m even more competitive as I move into the professional workforce. It really means a lot to me.”
In addition to scholarships, the campaign also funded approximately $40 million for nine capital projects. Among those projects was the creation of the Bo Bartlett Center, a 18,425 square foot multidisciplinary teaching and research facility for the arts; Frank D. Brown Hall, a 90,000 square foot facility that houses CSU’s education and nursing programs; the John W. Walden Tennis Center, home of CSU’s nationally ranked men’s and women’s tennis teams; the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity, which recently earned USG approval for Georgia’s first ever nexus degree in cybersecurity; and the Saunders Center for Laboratory Sciences, part of a 22,000 square foot addition to CSU’s newly renovated LeNoir Hall. Funds also allowed for major renovations or additions to Pasaquan, the Key Golf Studio, Burger King Stadium, and the Synovus Center for Commerce and Technology.
“The nursing facility at Frank Brown Hall is world-class,” said Aaliyah Yarbrough, nursing student at CSU. “We have mannequins that actually move, talk, and breathe, so it is interactive and hands-on.”
Also funded by the campaign was approximately $36 million in general support, $3 million in outreach program support, and $5.5 million in professorships and chairs. Such funds allowed for the creation of three new endowed faculty chairs and 10 new endowed program funds.
“I am extremely privileged to have the endowed chair in choral activities. It allows me to bring my students meaningful experiences that I might not otherwise have the opportunity to bring them,” said Dr. Ianthe Marini, the Paul S. and Jean R. Amos Distinguished Chair of Choral Activities at CSU’s Schwob School of Music. “They have just been accepted to be a spotlight performance at Carnegie Hall next spring, and we will be able to travel in due part because of the endowment.”
For more information on the total impact of the campaign, please click here.
While the campaign significantly impacts CSU and its students, it also benefits the community as a whole. In fact, is estimated to make a $295 million annual economic impact in the Chattahoochee Valley community.
“The growth of Columbus State has just made an unbelievable impact over the 40 years that I have been in Columbus. All you have to do is go downtown and see the dramatic change that Columbus State has made there,” said Tony Link, CSU Foundation trustee.
New projects on CSU’s RiverPark campus help to revitalize booming Uptown Columbus. In the last decade, more than $125 million has been invested in Uptown by, or on behalf of, CSU. For example, the construction of Frank D. Brown Hall, which was funded by the campaign, spurred the redevelopment of the 1200 block of Broadway and brought an additional 1,800 students, faculty, and staff to the area by spring of 2017.
Another campaign-funded project in Uptown Columbus, the Bo Bartlett Center, provides opportunities for individuals across the community. It has been just over a year since the center opened its doors, but it is already home to a number of projects that bring art to local schools, the homeless, and adults with disabilities. The center also hosts masterclasses each year that bring visiting artists to the community for three-day workshops.
“It’s not my center; it’s your center. It’s Columbus’s center. It’s the South’s center. It’s America’s center,” said Bo Bartlett, a Columbus-native and internationally known artist whose donation helped to fund the $6.5 million project.
Other campaign benefits to the community include training for tomorrow’s workforce in highly sought-after fields. One example of that is the creation of the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity. TSYS and CSU have a longstanding relationship, with more than 1,000 CSU alumni having worked at TSYS at one point or another. The creation of the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity, along with the new Nexus degree in cybersecurity, will allow CSU to train workers with the exact skills that TSYS needs.
“Columbus State University and the greater Columbus community have rewritten the rules for public/private partnerships in higher education”, said CSU President Chris Markwood. “There are no limits on what we can achieve together!”