VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University’s first capital campaign has raised more than 50 percent of its five-year-goal in the past eight months, according to university president William McKinney, who announced the achievement Monday.
“This is a historic day at Valdosta State University,” said McKinney to a crowd gathered at the school’s University Center.
During the event, McKinney announced that the University Advancement team has raised more than $30 million of the $53.2 million five-year-goal for the school’s capital campaign.
“This campaign has the capacity to change our culture and secure the financial resources necessary to address our challenges,” said McKinney. “This campaign will change the mindset of the entire institution.”
The “Invest. Ignite. Inspire.” campaign aims to raise funds at a time when schools across the state are adjusting to a funding model which stresses student retention and graduation rates and places more of an emphasis on private support, according to McKinney.
“Our ability to recruit and retain students is paramount to our mission,” said John Crawford, vice president for University Advancement. “We do not want to simply be a university. We want to be a great university, and we are.”
A large portion of the funds have been dedicated to increase the number and dollar amount of scholarship offerings in an effort to recruit and graduate high-achieving students, according to VSU.
Funds will also been allocated for faculty enhancements, programmatic opportunities, athletics excellence and facility upgrades, according to VSU.
The College of Arts is one area of focus for facility improvements. The capital campaign aims to fund upgrades to studios, practice rooms and performance areas.
“What we must understand about art students is this: The more professional the facility, the more competitive they will be as graduates,” said McKinney. “The more professional the facility, the greater our ability to recruit talented students to campus. Now we recruit based on faculty. If we had the faculty and the facility, we could be a powerhouse in the arts.”
The campaign successfully solicited donations from more than 3,800 first-time donors, which McKinney touted as a significant achievement.
As a part of the campaign, VSU received the largest-ever donation in the school’s history, a $17 million gift from Dr. H. Brantley Jenkins Jr. and Barbara Jenkins. Dr. Jenkins taught physics at VSU from 1968 to 1984, and he serves as honorary chairman of the capital campaign.
“I’m humbled every time I talk about it,” said McKinney.