At Thursday night's Blue Block Party, President Barbara R. Snyder announced the university surpassed its $1.5 billion campaign goal, alongside (from left) Board of Trustees Chair Jim Wyant, trustee Tim Callahan and Forward Thinking Campaign Chair Frank Linsalata.

Case Western Reserve surpasses expanded campaign goal of $1.5 billion well ahead of schedule

President Barbara R. Snyder thanks supporters; adds, “We are not finished yet”

Buoyed by commitments from nearly 55,000 donors and philanthropic organizations, Case Western Reserve has surpassed its expanded $1.5 billion capital campaign goal.

The historic achievement also marked the second time in three years that the university exceeded a campaign endpoint well ahead of schedule.

“The generosity of Case Western Reserve’s alumni and friends is absolutely astounding—and deeply humbling,” President Barbara R. Snyder said Thursday evening after a celebration kicking off the university’s homecoming weekend. “It is also a testament to the inspiring teaching and research of our faculty, and immense talent and promise of our students.”

In fact, President Snyder announced during the event, one alumnus and his wife have been so moved by the achievements of the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering that they have committed $20 million to support its efforts.

$20 million for biomedical engineering

Bob Aiken, a 1952 graduate majoring in mechanical engineering, and his wife, Brenda, originally made a gift to support undergraduate scholarships in biomedical engineering. Over time they learned more about faculty members’ recent achievements—including allowing a paralyzed man to move his limb with his thoughts, and another with an amputated arm to be able to distinguish textures through his prosthetic hand.

“I was overwhelmed by seeing the artificial hand that can feel,” Brenda Aiken said in a video aired during the event. “It just blew my mind.”

The couple eventually decided that their contributions should be spent for biomedical engineering education and research, specifically for department priorities that the school dean and department chair determine.

“This type of education will get into a group that will go out and be helping people not only locally, but around the world,” Bob Aiken added during the video.

Trustee and alumni support

President Snyder announced two additional commitments during the event, both from university trustees. Donald J. Richards, a retired managing director at Accenture, has added to an earlier commitment for graduate student fellowships with a $1 million pledge for undergraduate scholarships—an area of such importance that the university established a “mini-campaign” to inspire additional support.

Tim Callahan, who with his wife and family foundation have made multiple gifts to support areas like scholarships, nursing and endow the F. Joseph Callahan Distinguished Lecture—made a $2 million commitment through his family’s foundation to support the Health Education Campus; this gift, which is shared equally with Cleveland Clinic, had the added distinction of being the contribution that took the campaign past the $1.5 billion mark.

The event also honored Cheryl McRae-Bergeron, a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, who as an alumna of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing has contributed to the Annual Fund 14 times and serves as an ambassador for the school. More recently, she became a member of the university alumni association board.

The campaign’s past, present and future

The university’s original goal for the Forward Thinking campaign had been $1 billion, more than twice the amount of the institution’s previous major fundraising effort. In 2014, however, supporters took the university past what first had seemed an ambitious amount—and did so two-and-a-half years before the campaign’s scheduled end date.

Rather than close the campaign early, university leaders elected to raise the target by 50 percent, and also extended the campaign two years, to the end of calendar year 2018. This time officials elected not to set a new goal, but President Snyder emphasized Thursday that fundraising efforts would continue unabated. Case Western Reserve has many more faculty deserving of endowed professorships, additional student support remains vital, and the university is still seeking gifts for the the Health Education Campus, the Mather Quad and an Interdisciplinary Engineering and Science Research building.

“Remember, we are not finished yet,” President Snyder told the crowd.

That said, much has been accomplished. As of Monday, Sept. 30, the campaign’s overall commitments totaled $1,545,820,641—a figure that flashed above the stage as President Snyder stood with some of the board leaders who contributed significantly to the campaign—Callahan, current board chair Jim Wyant, and campaign committee chair Frank Linsalata.

As part of that amount, the campaign has received:

  • $215.7 million for student scholarships and fellowships;
  • gifts for 90 endowed professorships; and
  • funds to build or renovate several exceptional structures, among them: the Tinkham Veale University Center, the Wyant Athletic and Wellness Center, the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box] in the Richey Mixon Building, and the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center at The Temple-Tifereth Israel.