Lehigh: GO Co-Chair James R. Maida '85 '17P '19P and Lisa Getzler, the executive director of the Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation, interviewed a panel of Lehigh students during the Lehigh Silicon Valley program. The campaign has raised a total of $566 million in endowments. (Courtesy of Deirdre Kwiatek)

Lehigh endowment increases following new donation

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GO: The Campaign for Lehigh has reached $566 million in endowments since the start of the campaign’s “quiet phase” on July 1, 2011, according to Deidre Kwiatek, the senior director of development and the campaign. This is up from $550 million since Oct. 25, 2018, when the campaign went public.

Kwiatek said since the beginning of the campaign, all donations made toward Lehigh are counted toward the fundraising initiative. The donors choose a specific initiative to support and the university directs their gift to that place.

Kenneth French, ’75, and his wife Vickie French made a recent donation of $5 million to go toward scholarship awards for students with demonstrated financial need.

Kenneth said that he and his wife are happy to support students among several institutions and chose to target low income, often first-generation students.

“My wife and I are happy we can give something back for the terrific education I received at Lehigh,” Kenneth said in an email. “There is no way I could have attended without the generous scholarships I received from the school. We hope those who benefit from our gift will make their own contributions to support future generations of Lehigh students.”

In 2018, Lehigh alumni in addition the the students, faculty and staff attended three campaign launch events.

A launch was held on campus on Oct. 25 that featured Grammy-nominated singer Halsey, as well as events in New York City on Oct. 26 and San Francisco on Oct. 27.

“We see about 20 percent of alumni that engage every year with Lehigh as event attendees, donors, and/or volunteers,” said Jennifer Cunningham, assistant vice president for Alumni Relations. “What we’re hoping for is that over the five years that at least 50 percent of our (alumni) will connect with Lehigh in some way.”

Cunningham said the engagement goals of this campaign are about informing the 80,000 alumni around the world and encouraging them to get involved and invested in Lehigh. She said lifelong relationships are built between Lehigh and the alumni, who are excited to see the place they once studied at evolve to serve students the way that it served them.

The campaign has activities planned for years to come to get even more Lehigh alumni involved with the progression of the university.

Kwiatek said the next big step for GO: The Campaign for Lehigh depends on the donors. She said it’s important to have conversations with other donors who are interested in making gifts at all levels — just like the French family. There has been a lot of energy going into outreach and information sharing so people understand what Lehigh’s all about and how philanthropy will benefit the university.

“We believe the more informed people are about what’s going on, the more that people will come and be a part of what’s going on at Lehigh,” Kwiatek said.

The campaign will have a more structured approach this spring with events that will bring specific groups of people together to discuss specific campaign initiatives.

Kwiatek said the hope is that donors will contribute because they recognize the value in the progression of Lehigh and will want to be a part of it.

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