LaGrange reaches $65 million campaign milestone

May 28, 2009

Gifts and pledges to the current Defining Moment fundraising campaign have surpassed the $65 million goal, according to LaGrange College officials.

“We have crossed the threshold into a new era for this institution,” said Stuart Gulley, president until June 30. “As we work to complete this campaign, we empower LaGrange College to reach new heights.”

With a goal nearly twice that of its most recent fundraising effort and the most ambitious one in the school’s 178-year history, the campaign was announced in the fall of 2007 and continues until year’s end. Its main components are the building of a new campus library, including related construction, and the enhancement of programs and operations for the benefit of students.

The library project was completed last month as the campus observed the dedication of its new 45,000 square-foot Frank and Laura Lewis Library. The building is expected to receive LEED silver certification, meaning it meets the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Campaign Chair Scott Hawkins, a LaGrange alumnus and principal of Atlanta’s Resource Real Estate Partners, pointed to a strong belief in the institution’s mission for the project’s momentum.

“Though we still have work to do with seven months left in this campaign, it is rewarding to see friends step forward who believe in the mission of challenging the minds and inspiring the souls of students,” he said. “Difficult economic conditions notwithstanding, people have been willing to help this college reach its vision of being Georgia’s premier private liberal arts and sciences institution.

“This is truly a defining moment with an impact that will reverberate on campus for years to come.”

According to Hawkins, a number of foundations made lead gifts toward the library project that were important to the campaign’s early success.

Callaway Foundation Inc. made a $6 million commitment to the construction of the new library. The Lettie Pate Evans Foundation pledged $2.5 million, and an anonymous Atlanta foundation contributed $3 million.

The campaign also has seen 100 percent participation from the College’s trustees, faculty and other volunteer groups. Hawkins himself provided $1.5 million, the largest gift the institution has received from a living alumnus.

The completion of the fundraising effort will be overseen by Dr. Dan McAlexander, the current provost of Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., who becomes LaGrange’s 25th president on July 1.

During his tenure, Belmont experienced an overall enrollment increase of 68 percent, while seeing spikes in average ACT scores. The school also launched a number of new academic programs and added three new residence halls and a $22 million health and science building during his time there.

Gulley said he was confident that the college’s friends would continue their support.

“LaGrange’s path to prominence will continue under Dr. McAlexander’s leadership,” he said, “and I am convinced that those who believe in LaGrange College will continue to provide the resources it needs for the next chapter of its growth.”

A four-year liberal arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church, LaGrange College is ranked in the top 10 and as a “best value” among 95 Southern baccalaureate colleges by U.S. News & World Report. The college is the oldest private institution of higher learning in Georgia and has an enrollment of about 1,000 students.

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