University, medical center announce $1B fundraising campaign

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Emily Hudspeth, a senior at Wake Forest University, writes about her inspiration from Professor Paul Pauca at the Wake Will campaign that was rolled out Friday. (Wesley Young/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Wake Forest University and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center on Friday announced a campaign to raise and invest $1 billion over the next five years, providing more money for scholarships, endowments and building improvements.

To give a little razzle-dazzle to the rollout, the university held a celebration on Manchester Plaza that featured food for students and guests, interactive exhibits to show off university highlights, and the showing of a promotional video in the darkened portion of a big tent that had students guessing what was up all week.

The campaign, called Wake Will: The Campaign for Wake Forest, is the largest fundraising effort the university has ever carried out. Of the money raised, $600 million will be earmarked for the university and $400 million for the medical center.

Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch said the effort has been under way since 2010, when the campaign was in a “quiet phase” that focused on major donors, including $80 million contributed by university trustees. Now that the campaign has gone public, Hatch said, the university will try to involve everyone connected with the Wake world of alumni, students, faculty and others who care about the university.

The fundraising on the university side has reached $315 million, while Wake Forest Baptist has raised $133 million on its side. Once the medical center reaches 50 percent of its $400 million goal, officials said, the medical center will roll out its own part of the campaign.

University officials said the campaign is needed because the university is competing against other universities that have far more money. They said that the university does not now have the money it needs to both preserve what is best and make improvements in the areas lagging behind.

“Unfortunately, capital does make a difference in the students we can admit, the student experience, faculty recruitment and retention and our national ranking,” officials said on the website devoted to the drive.

The university plans to earmark more than $190 million for student scholarships and debt relief, more than $130 million for endowed faculty chairs, professorships and other resources, and more than $280 million to upgrade buildings and faculty and student programming.

Hu Womack, an outreach and instruction librarian at Wake Forest, was pumped up about $12 million that would be spent to make improvements at the library: construction of a new entrance to give students better access, a larger special collections area, more study spaces and study rooms.

“The students love it,” Womack said, describing how people have reacted to his quick pitch. “The students love the increased study spaces, the faculty and staff like the way we are true to the design, and everybody likes it that it is not messing up the Starbucks.”

University Provost Rogan Kersh said he was gratified by the large turnout of students for the announcement.

“Campaigns tend to be outward-facing,” Kersh said. “We weren’t sure how many would come. At most places, you get the big donors and alumni in a room and that’s it. Here, folks recognize that it is a campaign for the campus.”

Don Flow, who chairs the university’s board of trustees, will head up the campaign to raise $1 billion.

Dan Bourland, a professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine, was one of the people who had an artist illustrate his interest in cross-campus collaboration, in a part of the tent where people had their inspirations turned into sketches. Bourland called the Wake campus “a gem of a place,” but said that the fundraising is needed to keep the quality top-notch.

Visitors to the tent on Friday were invited to write a message on a big “book” about what or who inspired them at Wake Forest.

Claire Karakozoff, a sophomore from McLean, Va., wrote about how her accounting professor, Cynthia Tessien, taught her “what’s important in the grand scheme of life, not just the test tomorrow morning.” Karakozoff said that when she was going through a tough time, the professor invited her to spend a weekend with her and her family at their mountain home.

Another student, Emily Hudspeth, credited her computer science professor, Paul Pauca, with helping her realize that any field of study can be used to do good in the world. Both Hudspeth and Karakozoff called the fundraising drive an exciting event for the school.

“I think it is cool, and something we have needed for a long time,” Hudspeth said. “It is going to benefit the students in the long run.”

By Wesley Young/Winston-Salem Journal

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