Five years ago in the thick of the Great Recession, Clark College launched its first major private fundraising campaign as higher education dollars continued to wither away across the state.
Now, the campaign — titled Ensuring a Bright Future: Campaign for Clark College — has come to an end. And Lisa Gibert, the president and CEO of the Clark College Foundation, announced Tuesday afternoon that the fundraiser far surpassed everyone’s expectations.
“Despite a campaign that ran right down the middle of the Great Recession, I’m proud to inform you that not only did we meet our $20 million goal but we smashed it,” she told a crowd that gathered at the Andersen Fountain on Clark’s campus. “Raising this level of funding at Clark is unprecedented.”
In all, the campaign raised $26,593,789, money that will be broken up among a number of key teaching areas and scholarships for years to come. The mark represents the largest sum of private dollars the college has raised in its 81-year history, said Chato Hazelbaker, a spokesman for Clark College.
A happy bunch of teachers, staff, students, politicians and donors gathered Tuesday afternoon in the heart of the college’s main campus to hear the news and celebrate the end of the campaign in a small festival-like atmosphere.
Students set up tables and games around the fountain to highlight the school’s academic programs. And the Columbia River High School Marching Band added to the suspense with a drumroll before a group of students took turns revealing each digit of the final fundraising tally.
More than 4,000 people donated to the campaign since its soft launch in January 2009, Gibert said.
“And it seems like a long five years,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and the campaign leadership team was with us there all along the way.”
The summer of 2014 happened to be a busy time for the campaign as it quickly wound down to an end. Back in February, it had already raised $19.2 million and it hit the $20 million mark in June, according to the foundation’s fundraising timeline.
Just down the street earlier Tuesday afternoon, the college also held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new science, technology, engineering and math building, which will soon be the largest building on campus. Construction is set to wrap up on the 76,000-square-foot building in the spring of 2016.
Clark College President Bob Knight took a few moments to thank the foundation, the donors and lawmakers involved with bringing the STEM building to life. Securing funding for the building began more than a decade ago, he said.
“As many of you know, the state funding for that building was significantly reduced by the state Legislature at the last minute,” Knight said. “The foundation has stepped in and helped restore the funds needed to provide lab and other equipment that we need to make the most of that beautiful building.”