With thousands of gifts — ranging from a $5 monthly donation to the Willamette Annual Fund to five donors making commitments of over $1 million — Willamette alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff and friends provided $17.785 million in support of the university last fiscal year.
The final figures for new gifts and pledges raised by the Advancement Office made 2016–17 one of the best fundraising years since 2000. In particular, the Willamette Annual Fund’s record-setting total of $1.52 million included an unprecedented three gifts of $50,000 and 11 of over $25,000. A number of donors also celebrated nearly four decades of loyal annual giving to the university.
“The Willamette University family — a big, generous, diverse family of alumni, students, parents, faculty and staff — is reflected in the broad range of gifts,” says Shelby Radcliffe, vice president for advancement. “People are excited about the university’s strategic plan, especially its ideals of access, affordability and diversity.”
The impact of the support will be felt across campus — from more financial aid and career internships for students to new lecture series.
Several Willamette donors chose to commemorate faculty and staff, through measures including a new scholarship named after retiring Atkinson Graduate School of Management faculty member Fred Thompson and a fund in honor of Danny Santos JD’86, the College of Law’s former associate dean of students and administration.
In addition, a member of the Board of Trustees honored the late Dick Gillis, a former member of the economics faculty, with a commitment of $2 million to provide new scholarships for talented undergraduate students.
While many donors supported new scholarship funds — including a new $1 million commitment to help more than 30 students with significant financial need — others strategically enhanced programs and projects across campus.
One Willamette family set up a new endowed fund to support the Bearcat swimming program. In addition, the parents of a Willamette alumnus established a new program in the College of Liberal Arts to bring scholars from various academic disciplines to campus to provide insights into the Muslim perspective in the Middle East. And a spring 2017 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation will help support strategic planning efforts for Willamette Academy.
“Whether they honor the university’s legacy or invest in its future,” says Radcliffe, “these gifts expand the capacity of Willamette and its work.”