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The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

Drake announces ambitious programs for “Next Great Era”

Photo courtesy of Drake University

Drake announces ambitious programs for “Next Great Era”

“The Ones” campaign to fund University Center, scholarships and more

On Oct. 28, Drake University announced a $225 million fundraising campaign titled “The Ones” for a series of initiatives that aim to bring the fine arts into a new University Center, raise the percentage of technology majors at Drake who are women or people of color to 50% and use University resources to help solve issues in rural America, among other goals. 

“This campaign is grounded in the notion that we’re looking up, and we’re asking ourselves: how might we have an even more positive impact on the world?” Drake President Marty Martin said in an interview with The Times-Delphic.  

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The “The Ones” campaign also includes scholarship programs to enable students to get involved with these initiatives. It has already raised $107 million and is planned to finish in October 2024. Vice President for Advancement John Smith said the campaign includes some funds donated over the last few years for projects like the Harkin Center and the Gregory & Susie Glazer Burt Boys and Girls Club on campus.

Martin said that the campaign addresses an external challenge facing the University: a decline in numbers of undergraduate students that he expects to start in 2026. He said that the campaign’s “University for All” initiative to reach “learners along the full continuum of learning” is part of Drake’s response to this.

“This campaign by its definition is to elevate the University’s brand, elevate the University’s reputation, and to inspire the next generation of students who want to attend Drake with this enhanced and supportive environment,” Smith said.

The Times-Delphic has previously reported on an initiative undertaken by Provost Sue Mattison that intends to increase faculty salaries in the long run by making cuts to course offerings, adjunct faculty hiring and summer pay for professors. Martin said that Drake must both address present challenges like investing in its employees and also define its future. 

“If you’re going to be a dynamic organization that’s going to hold yourself accountable to the goal of continuous improvement as we do, that’s what you’ve got to do,” Martin said. “Again, you have to deal with what’s in front of you, but at the same time, work hard to define the future state, and that’s what the campaign does.”

Seven initiatives with four scholarship programs 

One of the seven initiatives outlined in the campaign’s case statement is a planned major expansion of the Olmsted Center to the south and east to establish a new University Center. Smith said the “scale, scope, and vision” of the center will depend on donors’ response to the campaign. 

According to Martin, the plans for the center include an expanded bookstore, a food venue, an arts hall, a studio theater and a gallery. Martin added that the first two levels of Olmsted will undergo major remodeling to create a more “open concept” that allows visitors to see what’s happening in other parts of the center. 

“…The goal is to bring kind of a mall from the east of Olmsted towards Meredith Hall. And that mall will be the northern edge of new performing arts spaces, and where you move between the performing arts spaces and the University Center, we’ll have this intersection of the arts into the everyday life of campus,” Martin said. “So as you move through that space, you get some experience of the arts that brings some inspiration and joy into your day.”

Smith said that funds from the campaign will also go toward the Knapp Center renovation and the community stadium project with the Des Moines Public Schools. 

“The only major capital project in the campaign is the University Center,” Martin said. “There most likely will be classroom renovations, remodeling, [and] space remodeling that will support the programming for other of the big ideas, but we’re not anticipating a new building for any of those.”

The “The Ones” campaign case statement also includes an initiative to create a Center for Public Democracy to prepare students for careers in public service and a priority of investing in entrepreneurial and community engagement programs to make “Every Bulldog a Changemaker.” A fourth initiative, the Jay N. Darling Institute, is intended to make rural communities “more sustainable, competitive in the global economy, and resilient for future generations.”

“There will be a process by which rural communities will be able to solicit us for things they want to get done, and then we’ll match their needs with our competency, and help them accomplish those goals,” Martin said. “Ideally, if we are successful, we will raise an endowed fund that will provide resources to make those projects possible.”

Another initiative is the Digital Proficiency Platform, which sets a goal of increasing the percentage of women and people of color in technology programs to 50% of students through a scholarship program, recruiting initiatives and peer mentoring opportunities, according to Martin and the case statement. Smith said that these technology majors include mathematics, computer science, data analytics and Drake’s new artificial intelligence degree, which Martin said was another piece of the overall initiative. 

According to Martin and Smith, a major component of the Digital Proficiency Platform, Center for Public Democracy, Darling Institute and Every Bulldog a Changemaker initiatives will be the awarding of 5 renewable $5,000 scholarships. Martin said that the scholarship programs for the first three initiatives mentioned will begin in fall 2022, and the date for Every Bulldog a Changemaker has not been set yet. 

“All four of those programs have new scholarship programs built into them that not only provide additional financial support to students who will be involved in those efforts, but also will provide opportunities for additional programming, both curricular and co-curricular,” Martin said.

A multi-year process

Martin said that the campaign first began in the fall of 2018. The University invited students and faculty “champions” to submit big ideas that they wanted to see happen at Drake, and Smith said the campaign’s about 40-person steering committee, which includes the student body president, received 50 submissions that met Drake’s criteria. 

“I think I was just there as a voice to kind of give input,” 2018-2019 student body president Nick Johnston said. “I felt it was needed from a student perspective.”

Martin and Smith said that the big ideas were then vetted and combined by the steering committee, which included and made recommendations to the Drake Board of Trustees. Smith also said that Martin received feedback from about 145 prospective donors about the big ideas. 

“So, the champions that I mentioned have been involved from the moment they made their submissions,” Martin said. “If their idea moved forward, they continued to be involved, and that’s about 35 faculty and staff who are even involved today, that will be involved all through the campaign, [and] that will be involved in the execution of these big ideas.”

Smith said the University will provide updates about the campaign but did not give a date. 

Stay tuned for a follow-up story next week that will take a closer look at the “The Ones” campaign’s Initiatives and Priorities.

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