Eastern Illinois University's announcement that its "EI&U: Expect Greatness" campaign was ending -- nearly two years early and $13.7 million over goal -- was met with a bang… literally.
The declaration that the campaign had raised $63,696,747 was followed by a fireworks display near the university's Campus Pond. Celebrants included 300 donors and supporters gathered for a thank-you barbecue, scheduled to coincide with Eastern's 2012 Family Weekend activities.
The university-wide capital campaign, which publicly began in October 2010, was expected to run through June 2014. It was designed to raise $50 million for student, faculty/staff, program and facility support.
"We exceeded our goal," said Robert Martin, vice president for university advancement, explaining the decision to officially end the campaign. "People really stepped up right at the beginning.
"And this," he said, referring to the celebration, "is a way in which we can thank our alumni and donors and show our appreciation for their gifts. We want them to know that we are thankful for their contributions -- from the $1 million donors to the $1 donors."
Martin said the nearly $64 million total was a result of more than 43,000 individual gifts. He added that the campaign's success was based on relationships "built over a long, long time."
"These gifts were a great expression of generosity and loyalty by our alumni and friends," he said.
Approximately $19 million was achieved as a result of 12 regional campaigns and outreach to Eastern alumni from across the country, including New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Phoenix and Chicago.
And, Martin added, approximately one third of the campaign total came from those who made the decision to include Eastern in their final estate plans. "That means a lot to us in that it tells us that our alumni are appreciative of the education they received here at EIU."
Julie Nimmons, campaign chairman and a 1977 graduate of Eastern, echoed Martin's comments.
"Throughout the campaign, when calls were made, meetings were held and receptions attended, stories about lives being changed, new beginnings taking place, and life-long lessons learned at Eastern were told," she said. "We heard about alums being the first in their family to attend a university and get a degree. We heard about professors going out of their way to help someone make it through a particularly tough class.
"We heard about someone in student services helping them find a job so they could stay in school. And, of course, we heard about the social interactions which created relationships that now span many years and, in most cases, many miles in distance between friends, yet remain so important and intact."
EIU President Bill Perry, who made the final total announcement jointly with Martin and Nimmons, noted his appreciation for all involved.
"There are so many people to thank for the success of this campaign. Donors, volunteers, faculty and staff who for many years have built such a great EIU experience for so many alumni, our outstanding philanthropy team, and our Campaign Steering Committee are among those to whom we are extremely grateful," he said. "I want to especially thank Vice President Bob Martin and Campaign Steering Committee Chair Julie Nimmons for their roles in the campaign; their leadership was a key factor in our success."
Although the campaign has officially ended, Martin said the university will continue to accept monetary gifts. "We always take donations," he said, smiling. Especially those in support of those programs that are near and dear to the hearts of our donors."