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distinctlyDrake aiming for $200 million by 2014 for professorships, capital improvements

Can a love story really change the world? The Drake University Alumni and Development Office thinks so, and it has made this the central question to the university’s distinctlyDrake campaign that was launched in October last year.

“The goal of the campaign is to fulfill the needs of the university,” said Blake Campbell, director of alumni and parent relations for the Alumni Office.

The initial goal of the distinctlyDrake campaign was to raise $200 million by 2014. As of April 2011, over $88 million has been raised.

The campaign has several elements to it, including adding 26 endowed professors, strengthening programs that are already in place (like the Donald V. Adams Leadership Institute) and creating academic centers in the areas of global citizenship, leadership, speaking and writing, creative learning and teaching and intellectual property law. Another key priority of the campaign is several capital projects that will add additional buildings to campus or bring improvements and renovations to existing ones.

The Alumni Office is using the distinctlyDrake campaign as a way to build up support from alumni. The department has given several presentations across the country, including events in Des Moines, Kansas City, Chicago and Phoenix. It will host an event in the Twin Cities on June 2.

Drake senior Amelia Mieth works for the Alumni Office as a student alumni ambassador and has given presentations about the campaign to alumni in Chicago and Des Moines.

“I like the idea of the Drake love story changing the world because it’s a positive aspect that digs deep into the alumni and asks them what they really love about Drake and what keeps them coming back to Drake,” Mieth said.

She added that at the presentations alumni have been very receptive to the campaign because they remember their experiences at Drake.

Sophomore Ryan Price, also a student alumni ambassador, agrees adding that by asking alumni about their Drake experiences it makes the campaign very unique.

“This campaign is different than a normal capital campaign exactly for that reason, it is all about relationships,” Price said. “With the relationship that many alumni have with the university, almost anything is possible.”

Mieth said the connection the campaign makes with alumni is a great part of its success.

“I think the campaign is going well because it hits home for alumni. It’s not just about the money, but a vision for Drake and what we hope to become,” Mieth said.

Campbell said that among the list of capital projects, a new School of Education building located on campus is one priority. The site of the new building would be at the intersection of 25th Street and Forest Avenue, next to the Knapp Center. The new facility would include nine classrooms, a library, a lecture hall, conference rooms, a technology lab and offices. Construction for the new School of Education building has not yet started.

“Some institutions will start building before they have all the money. We wait until we have the dollars in the door,” Campbell said.

Sophomore Nate Erickson, a secondary education major, thinks the current building is outdated and a hassle for students because it is off campus.

“I think the new building will help attract even more qualified students to Drake, and it will be nice not having to leave campus,” Erickson said.

The Alumni Office runs on a “donor-centered” philanthropy system, meaning that the donors can select which project they want to give their money to, Campbell said. One example of this would be the Fred and Patty Turner Jazz Center that opened earlier this year.

“We really focus on the interest and passion of the donor and align those passions with what the institution needs,” Campbell said.

The distinctlyDrake campaign also aims to build two new science facilities and renovate the three existing ones — Cline, Fitch and Harvey Ingham. Money raised will also be used to expand Cartwright Hall and Cowles Library, and renovate the Drake Fieldhouse.

Besides hosting events for alumni, the Alumni Office sponsored a fireworks display over Helmick Commons during homecoming in October to promote the campaign to current students. The department also encouraged students to submit pictures and videos to the distinctlyDrake website that show their Drake love stories. Students, alumni and visitors to the Drake Relays can expect to see the distinclyDrake video booth, where people can record their love stories, in Olmsted Center during Drake Relays.

“(distinctlyDrake) doesn’t seek to maintain the status quo or improve upon the status quo,” Price said. “It seeks to shatter it so that future generations of Drake students can enjoy an even more world-class education.”

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