CWRU launches $1 billion fundraising campaign; $80 million in new pledges announced

President Barbara R. Snyder announced Thursday night $80 million in new commitments as part of the launch of “Forward Thinking: The Campaign for Case Western Reserve University.” The president shared news of the $1 billion fundraising initiative with more than 3,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends as part of a campuswide celebration.

“Case Western Reserve is an outstanding national research university poised to become even more extraordinary,” Snyder said. “Our alumni and friends recognize this institution’s remarkable potential and have invested generously in the programs, projects and people required for us to realize it.”

During the evening, Snyder announced a $50 million pledge from The Weatherhead Foundation, the organization that industrialist Albert J. Weatherhead III led until his death last month. The commitment represents the single largest in university history. The dollars will be split evenly between the Weatherhead School of Management and the new Weatherhead Institute for Family Medicine and Community Health.

Weatherhead’s widow, Celia J. Weatherhead, joined Snyder on stage for the announcement and accepted the University Medal, Case Western Reserve’s highest honor, on her late husband’s behalf.

“Al Weatherhead was a brilliant businessman, a visionary philanthropist and a man wholly committed to doing all that he could to advance society,” Snyder said. “The legacy of Al and Celia Weatherhead at Case Western Reserve already was immense; this new pledge reflects their commitment to continuing to develop top business leaders and dramatically improving healthcare across communities.”

The university also announced a $20 million commitment to create an endowment for the university’s programs in the natural sciences. The pledge came from a donor who graduated with a degree in the sciences and who particularly appreciated his own opportunities to learn in small classes taught by creative, engaged faculty. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, went on to experience significant professional success as scientific innovator and entrepreneur.

“This pledge will enable us to make key strategic investments in faculty, research and infrastructure,” said Cyrus Taylor, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Its impact on our science programs will be nothing less than transformative.”

Snyder announced several other significant commitments during the evening, among them:

  • From the John Huntington Fund for Education, more than $5 million for undergraduate scholarships for students from Cuyahoga County who attend Case Western Reserve
  • From two-time alumna Dr. Mary Sheldon, $2 million to endow a professorship at the School of Medicine
  • From the family foundation of law school graduate Erich Spangenberg, $2 million to endow a professorship at the School of Law.
  • From KeyBank, an additional $1 million to an existing KeyBank fund at the Weatherhead School of Management to endow the Keybank Diversity Professorship.

These gifts and others announced earlier enabled the university to raise more $660 million during the “quiet phase” of the campaign, which began about four years ago. The university plans to use the five-year public phase of the campaign to continue fundraising and increase alumni engagement.

“The national outreach that accompanies a campaign like this provides a wonderful opportunity to reach out to our alumni and learn what issues are uppermost on their minds,” said Snyder, who visited more than two dozen alumni chapters during her first year in office. “I look forward to sharing the story of our growing momentum with our graduates, and hearing their ideas and suggestions.”

The university’s 2008 strategic plan, Forward Thinking, has driven the development of campaign priorities. Enhancing scholarship support and increasing the number of endowed professorships are two of the key topics of emphasis. Other key areas include capital projects and academic programs and centers.

The chair of the board is Charles “Bud” Koch, a trustee since 1999 and the former chairman and CEO of Charter One Financial. The chair of the capital campaign is Frank N. Linsalata, a 1963 graduate who served as chair of the Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2008, and continues to serve as a trustee. Both have designated major gifts to the Tinkham Veale University Center.

Al and Celia Weatherhead agreed to serve as honorary chairs of the campaign nearly a year ago. When Snyder asked them to consider the campaign roles, the couple’s response proved more positive than the president could have imagined. They wanted to be more than honorary leaders – they wanted to make a landmark contribution to the campaign.

“Al and Celia embody many of the ideals we seek to advance as a university: character, resilience, ingenuity, compassion, and a powerful sense of public spirit,” Snyder said Thursday. “The depth and breadth of their legacy is so significant that it will be literally decades before we even can begin to assess their impact.”

The Weatherheads provided the resources that enabled the development of what is now known as the Weatherhead School of Management, and also participated in the launch of its home in the Frank Gehry-designed Peter B. Lewis building.

The Weatherheads also have three endowments at the management school, including a named professorship traditionally held by its dean. The family also endowed the Albert H. Weatherhead III and Richard W. Weatherhead Professorship at the School of Law, held today by renowned evidence scholar Paul Giannelli.

Finally, the Dorothy Jones Weatherhead Professorship in Family Medicine bears the name of Al’s mother and is believed to be the first endowed chair for family medicine in the country. It is held today by family medicine department Chair George Kikano.

Kikano, the medical school’s vice dean for community health, will lead the Weatherhead Institute for Family Medicine and Community Health. The institute will build on the university’s already extensive health programs within the greater Cleveland area and add new levels of engagement and statistical analysis regarding interventions and initiatives that yield the greatest benefit in improving individual and community health. In addition, the institute will use its research findings to advocate for policy reforms that reduce healthcare costs while enhancing the coordination and delivery of patient care.

“The opportunities to benefit individuals and entire neighborhoods are immense,” Kikano said. “This institute will enable us to draw more students into the practice of primary care medicine, prepare them to serve as true leaders of their organizations and professions and, at the same time, develop the data necessary to affect policy changes that help patients and our country’s bottom line. My gratitude to Al and Celia cannot be described in words, but will be reflected in the activities and impact of this institute.”

For more information about Albert J. Weatherhead,

For more information about the campaign, visit