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Fundraiser nears goal

Mills College is on its way to reaching a $100 million fundraising goal by the May 2003 deadline, officials said.

The fundraising is part of the sesquicentennial campaign, the celebration of 150 years since the college was originally founded in Benicia. The campaign had reached $63.1 million as of Sept. 30, said Sally Randel, vice president of the Office of Institutional Advancement said.

“The sesquicentennial is time to celebrate what we have done and to look to the future,” President Janet Holmgren said.

Randel said that many institutions use accomplishments like the sesquicentennial to “connect to its history and purposes.”

As of Sept. 30, the campaign had raised 61.3 million, or 61 percent of their goal. Staff is confident about their ability to make up the difference by May 30 and believe that the campaign is gaining momentum.

According to Randel most fundraising picks up speed toward the end of the drive. “The program has always been an ambitious program,” she said. “We’ll have to have luck and a lot of heart but we’ll do it, or die trying.”

So far, the campaign has received about fifteen gifts of $1 million from alumnae, families, and foundations, and twenty-seven gifts of $500, 000 or more. Between Sept. 30 and Oct. 22 of this year, the campaign has raised $2 million, according to Randel.

“Of the overall goal of $100 million, $52 million of that will go towards the endowment and current funds,” said Randel. “The remaining $48 million will go toward building projects deemed important enough to be featured in the sesquicentennial campaign.”

The endowment and current funds campaign, one part of the sesquicentennial, is currently 78 percent of the way towards its goal. The endowment fund includes money for financial aid, student life, faculty salaries, academic programs, the library, and scholarships.

The endowment comes from donors. The idea is that it is a perpetual fund and a permanent source of income, Randel said. In 1990, the endowment was at $90 million, today it is at $150 million, from donations and also funding, and interest on already invested endowment funds.

“Perhaps the easiest way of thinking of the endowment is thinking of it as a savings account, just spending the income not the savings,” said Randel.

The buildings aspect of the campaign is 33 percent of the way there, with $15.6 million as of Sept. 30. “If the campaign falls short, it is generally the building projects that get shorted,” said Randel.

Suzanne Adams Plaza, Trefethen Aquatic Center, and the education complex are parts of the building campaign that have already been completed. In addition, art museum renovations are mostly completed.

Other projects include the music building renovation which has a $18 million price tag, a new science facility ($15 million), and the renovation of what was the education and children’s school into a center for Social Science ($3.3 million).

The capital campaign is managed by the Office of Institutional Advancement. There is also a volunteer committee, a major gift committee, the chair and Board of Trustees, and the support and involvement of Holmgren, Randel said.

“In thinking positively, I think that it is possible, but there are caveats to my optimism,” said Davida Hartman Griffin of KQED.

The second part of the sesquicentennial is a celebration. The celebration of the sesquicentennial will be a large celebration with alumni and social activity, said Randel.

Each of the three semesters (spring 2002, fall 2002, and spring 2003) will address a general topic such as art, science and policy, said Randel. The events are too far away to have details on yet, the logistics and details of the celebration have yet to be worked out.

The Alumni Center is also actively involved in the sesquicentennial. The Mills Quarterly is going to run a series of historical articles, one per issue during 2002, such as excerpts of a Mills student diary or publication, said David Brin, editor of the Mills Quarterly.

“One of the ideas is to take the events and add them under the banner of sesquicentennial events,” Gail Indvik, director of alumnae relations said. “We are using the sesquicentennial to make our events more high profile, especially in terms of outreach.”

The admissions department has even been talking about the sesquicentennial while recruiting students. “We certainly talk about it and the age of the college and that it will be here for a long while,” said Avis Hinkson, Dean of Admission.