By Jeff Murphy, May 15, 2018
WARRENSBURG, MO – Recognizing that many students who have the talent and ambition to pursue a higher education may not achieve their college dream without financial support, the University of Central Missouri has announced plans to launch the Gift of Success Campaign for students in fall 2018. This campaign aligns with university-wide plans for a new transformative model for student success and college completion that will begin this summer with the new Class of 2021 what will be the university’s 150th graduating class.
UCM President Chuck Ambrose is helping to jump-start this initiative to raise $1 million in more scholarships annually for the Fund for Student Success in the UCM Alumni Foundation that will be built with a challenge by UCM alumni who themselves benefit from the university’s commitment to student success. He announced this initiative May 11, adding that he will make his own personal gift of $25,000 to help support student scholarships as the invitation is made for others to join in this critical effort. The campaign, and other elements of a plan to build connections with 100,000 alumni and other UCM supporters, was approved by the UCM Alumni Foundation Board of Directors when it met Thursday and Friday, May 10-11.
“This is an exciting opportunity for UCM, and I look forward to engaging our alumni and leadership in doing something very special to assist students who may not be able to cross the degree finish line without financial support,” Ambrose said. “During the next 12 months, we are going to challenge some of our best UCM alumni and longtime supporters to match my gift. Other individuals will be contacted by the university’s Alumni Foundation as we seek to raise over $1 million more to help students move forward to obtain a quality degree.”
According to Ambrose, the Gift of Success Campaign is consistent with the university’s goal to become a national leader in student retention. For UCM, this means retaining 80 percent of its students who will go on to complete a degree – a degree that may hinge on adequate financial assistance.
“Scholarships are essential to meeting our ambitious retention goal,” Ambrose said. “While the amount of financial assistance students need may vary, research has shown that an average of $672 is often all that stands between a student and their ability to stay in school.”
Ambrose said he was pleased by the support given by the Alumni Foundation Board to help launch Gift of Success Campaign. This is part of a comprehensive approach to Advancement that aligns program components across university assets. In addition to a fully integrated and comprehensive campaign plan, it also includes components such as re-staffing/reorganization of Advancement staff; design and delivery of the fundraising program; launch of a new Annual Giving Program with alumni annual giving as the primary target; launch of a Young Alumni Program with primary focus on the transition from current to future young alumni; a realignment of gift societies and donor recognition; and alignment of both Athletic and Academic Annual Giving.
To help meet initiative goals, the university is currently seeking to fill Advancement positions that include the Director of Alumni Relations, Director of Advancement Services, and Project Manager. The university is integrating Advancement communication with the Office of University Relations, which will now include the Alumni and Development Communication Manager.
Additionally, Ambrose recently named an experienced leader and fundraiser, William “Bill” Estes, to serve as Interim Vice President for University Advancement, Executive Director of the Alumni Foundation. Estes, who has more than 40 years of experience in university development, alumni relations and intercollegiate athletics, most recently served as Vice President for University of West Georgia, where he tripled the university’s fundraising, expanded the alumni association, and established an athletic fundraising program.
“I have great confidence in Bill’s ability to help UCM achieve its defined fundraising objectives and assist in building strong relationships that will contribute to meeting Alumni Foundation goals,” Ambrose said. “Bill joining the team is exactly what we need to maintain positive momentum at a very challenging economic time.”
The Gift of Success Campaign is one of many new student success initiatives planned at UCM this fall, and is part of the university’s aggressive completion agenda. The university also will be implementing the Student Success Continuum, which provides a more centralized and personalized way to provide students with the right amount of assistance they need to stay on track and succeed on a graduation path at UCM.
This is in addition to progress already made in the student success/completion areas that include:
Ambrose noted that more than 64 percent of UCM’s students are those who are first-generation, Pell-eligible, and individuals underserved in higher education. Because of their economic situation, these students tend to rely more on borrowing to pay for their education. UCM’s goal is to provide as much assistance as possible to help eliminate the burden of college debt these students incur on the way to achieving their education dreams.
“Thousands of UCM alumni understand the financial challenges these students and others face, and together we have the opportunity to accomplish great things on behalf of those who need support the most,” Ambrose said. “When our alumni raise students up through their financial gifts and contribute to their success, our alumni, in turn, elevate the equity and value of their UCM degrees.”