"So we come together tonight, EIU family and friends, to put a stake in the ground, to make a statement. We say today, We will expect greatness of ourselves and our university.'"
With these words, Eastern Illinois University President Bill Perry on Friday officially ushered in the beginning of "EI&U: The Campaign for Eastern" - a university-wide capital campaign designed to raise $50 million for student, faculty, facility and program support.
"We make this statement in the context of a university that arose from humble beginnings, that from those beginnings has been the doorway to opportunity for generations of students, and continues today to be an engine of opportunity," Perry continued.
"This university sprang from prairie soil in a culture of rolled up sleeves and can do' attitude. As it evolved from the noble legacy of normal school to state college to state university, the roots of excellence, personal relationships, opportunity and service nourished a dynamic community of students, faculty and staff that has achieved at the highest level regardless of what challenges came our way."
Perry's remarks fell upon the ears of approximately 270 of Eastern's most generous alumni and friends, gathered on campus for an event coinciding with the university's 2010 Homecoming celebration.
Robert Martin, vice president for university advancement, explained that after months of planning, the campaign has now entered the public phase of the first comprehensive capital campaign ever conducted on the EIU campus.
"This is our first total university-wide approach, combining academics with athletics, to fundraising," he said.
However, there's more to "EI&U: The Campaign for Eastern" than just hoped-for funds.
"When universities launch campaigns, the focus is usually on the financial goals. But I believe that is short-sighted," Perry said. "This campaign lays a foundation for much more than the financial future of EIU. That is why we have three goals in this campaign: Develop more of the enduring relationships that are an EIU tradition, but must grow; develop more volunteers in support of EIU's programs; and, yes, achieve a significant monetary goal in support of students, faculty, programs, and facilities."
Julie Nimmons, campaign chairman and a member of EIU's Board of Trustees, also spoke at Friday's event.
"Through this campaign, you and I have an opportunity to change students' lives and help shape their dreams," she said. "By being a part of this campaign, you and I can continue to expect greatness of ourselves and demonstrate our appreciation to the university which impacted us."
Seventeen others - all alumni and/or friends of the university - join Nimmons, of Litchfield, on the campaign steering committee: Timothy and Vickie (Krupp) Burke, Evanston; Max and Mary Cougill, Charleston; Judy Ethell, Chesterfield, Mo.; Daryll Fletcher, Mundelein; Bob Glover, Chicago; Robert Ingram, Durham, N.C.; Charles Keller, Effingham; Jeffrey Knezovich, Naperville; Herbert and Lynnette Jane Lasky, Ashmore; Richard A. Lumpkin, Mattoon; Carl T. Mito, Arlington Heights; Tony Romo, Dallas, Texas; Paul Snyder, Oro Valley, Ariz.; and Charles W. Witters, Las Vegas, Nev.
Those wishing for more information on the campaign, or who wish to inquire about giving opportunities, should contact Karla Evans, director of EIU's Office of Philanthropy, at email@example.com , 217-581-3315.