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Campaign for Acadia gains momentum

June 19, 2019

In an unprecedented show of support, more than 5,000 individuals, corporations, foundations, and other allies have committed approximately $64 million toward the $75-million Campaign for Acadia goal. The comprehensive fundraising campaign, announced in October 2018, will strengthen support for students and faculty, enhance investment in research, and improve campus infrastructure.

“Our community has rallied behind Campaign for Acadia with enthusiasm and pride,” says Acadia President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Peter Ricketts. “Our alumni, donors, and friends see the value in supporting Acadia and our students. Through their generosity, we are increasing financial support and improving access to higher education.”

He explains that the Campaign is a way to reach people who believe in the University’s values. “This is an opportunity for supporters to give back and help our students and to make sure Acadia continues to deliver on its promise for generations to come.”

In 2018, 4,938 people attended 100 alumni and campaign events held in locations at home and abroad, including Wolfville, Halifax, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa, Hong Kong, Bahamas, and Bermuda. The Campaign for Acadia website had nearly 20,000 views as people visited the site to learn more about the initiative by reading feature articles written by alumna Rachel Cooper (’89). Moreover, 90,000 people viewed the Campaign for Acadia launch video, which was filmed and edited by alumnus Mike Dembeck (’98).

Acadia’s Office of Advancement and Campaign Cabinet leadership team launched the initiative after consulting with campus and community stakeholders. The Campaign’s purpose is to strengthen vital programs and priorities across Acadia’s faculties and campaign themes: Transform, Inspire, Discover, and Build.

Every Gift Matters

“Our Campaign is really about people,” explains Nancy McCain (’82), Campaign Chair. “Acadia’s supporters are improving learning environments, enhancing research and teaching infrastructure, and investing in the people and spaces that make Acadia unique in the post-secondary landscape.”

She adds that every donation enriches the student experience. McCain and an impressive group of Campaign Cabinet members from Canada and abroad are meeting with alumni and friends to garner support for Acadia, and many have increased
their contributions to the University.

“Every gift matters to the Campaign,” says Dr. Rod Morrison, Vice-President, Advancement. “We are encouraged by our progress to date, and we’re excited to see first-time donors joining long-time supporters. Alumni generosity is in large part due to a deep connection to Acadia and a desire to help others.”

Supportive Acadia Family

Indeed, the Acadia family bond is strong with more than 29,000 alumni and friends having some form of engagement with Acadia through strategic efforts, including events, communications, benefits, services, mentorship, and more. Their generosity is no surprise. To date, the Campaign, which started in quiet phase in 2013, has received more than 21,000 gifts – ranging from $10 to $2.5 million – from more than 5,000 donors. Dr. Morrison says every gift makes an impact, pointing out that 80 percent of contributions and new pledges in 2018 were under $1,000.

“This is an initiative that everyone can be involved in – as a leader, a donor, or an ambassador for Acadia,” he says. “We are using the word ‘campaign’ in both senses – a noun to describe the fundraising aspect and a verb to encourage our allies to campaign for Acadia actively.”

Although just starting his career as a business analyst with JD Irving, Josh Sampson (’18) decided now was the right time to join fellow graduates and support a new initiative, the Manning Enrichment Program, which will enhance the offerings of Acadia’s School of Business.

“I know firsthand the difference financial support makes for students, and I experienced incredible support from my professors in the School of Business,” he says. “Nowhere else can replicate the connection and engagement we have at Acadia. I want to make sure future students have the same better quality of education that I received.”

Donors Making a Difference

No matter what area a donor supports during Campaign for Acadia, our students are the primary beneficiaries. “I can’t imagine any greater gift than to allow someone to become educated because it’s a transformative experience,” says Dr. Randy Lynn Newman, Psychology professor.

Donor generosity for emerging scholars from the Harrison McCain Foundation encouraged Dr. Newman to create a research program that eventually attracted Canada Foundation for Innovation funding. “Sometimes people feel that ‘support’ means giving a million dollars to build a building, but often it’s support on a modest scale that makes the difference, that helps a faculty member get a research program started or, for example, that helps a student with financial need.”

Our students have so much gratitude for financial support, and they want to honour the legacy of the people who helped them”

Recent alumna Emily Kennedy (’14) was inspired to support Acadia. This fall, Kennedy made her first donation, $20.14 (her grad year), to Campaign for Acadia and challenged her fellow grads to do the same. “Acadia made me a better person all around,” says Kennedy, who just three years after receiving her degree, took the stage in Amsterdam to receive a Nudge Global Impact Award for a youth agricultural initiative she created. “Acadia made me a global citizen and made me aware of my actions. It also made me realize that I have a responsibility, and the ability, to make the world a better place.”

Transform: extraordinary student experiences

The Campaign’s Transform theme aims to strengthen the University’s financial awards and aid for students and creates a stronger, more responsive support system to improve access, opportunity, and wellness.

Recently deceased philanthropist Ron Joyce and Joyce Foundation trustees established TheJoyce Foundation Bursaries and the Clifford and Helena Oliver Bursaries, to honour the parents of Joyce’s friend, the Hon. Don Oliver (’60). These awards will forever be a part of Joyce’s legacy.

“Recognizing students who are already committed to their communities by being active volunteers is particularly satisfying,” Joyce said when Acadia announced the $2.5 million endowment in 2016. The awards are among Acadia’s most generous and reward minority students and those with financial need for their volunteerism, community involvement, and good citizenship.

Although retired, Dr. Roy Bishop (’59, ’61), professor emeritus and an honorary research associate of Physics, continues to make a difference to students. He has contributed $254,000 to the Campaign for Acadia to bolster the endowments of the existing Florence Jodrey Bishop Scholarships in Physics and Business, and to establish a new Florence Jodrey Bishop Scholarship in English, resulting in an endowment of $100,000 for each of the three scholarships. Dr. Bishop’s mother, Florence Jodrey (’34) majored in English.

It is so life-changing to be at Acadia. When donors support the Campaign, they are supporting students like me, who are growing each day. I believe we’re going to make the world a better place.”

Recent graduate and basketball student-athlete, Allie Berry (’18) appreciates those who help relieve the pressure felt by students. She says community and financial support helped her grow at Acadia – from nervous teenager to poised champion and community mentor.

Inspire: exceptional teaching and engagement

The Campaign’s Inspire theme looks to enhance teaching and engagement through new endowed faculty positions and additional professional development opportunities.

Campaign Cabinet member Ruth Hennigar (’81), created an award in 2014 to support young women, who like herself, want to attend Acadia to pursue a degree in computer science. Recently, Hennigar pledged an estate gift valued at $1 million to endow the Ruth Hennigar Fund for Faculty Excellence. The fund will create opportunities for faculty exchanges, pedagogical and leadership training, the creation of educational tools, teaching resources, and equipment.

Discover: innovative research and discovery

The Campaign’s Discover theme focuses on expanding research and innovation on campus.

In 2018, the Sobey Foundation launched a $500,000 fund to establish the Sobey Bursaries and the Sobey Awards in Nutrition and Dietetics. “Partnering with Acadia University, which has an exceptional reputation for academic excellence and community engagement, was an ideal choice,” said Frank Sobey. “Our partnership will not only help individual students achieve their academic goals but will eventually help Canadians live better lives, and we’re proud to contribute to the Campaign for Acadia.”

Alumni and friends support discovery on campus through gifts to specific causes like the Vaughan Memorial Library, which has benefited from the generosity of the Dalglish Family Foundation, with the strong endorsement of educator and family member Kim Abell (’91).

“Donor support helps us achieve our mission to provide the highest standard of resources,” says Daphne Flanagan, University Librarian, who is grateful for the funding. “We are better able to acquire currently published scholarly books needed by faculty and students in their pursuit of learning, teaching, and research. These resources will serve the campus community for years to come.”

Build: proud heritage and promising horizons

The Huffington Post has named Acadia’s campus among Canada’s most beautiful. The Build theme of the Campaign aims to further enhance Acadia’s physical infrastructure and strengthen financial resources.

For Campaign Cabinet member Francis Yip (’91), Acadia was the foundation on which he built a successful career in Information Technology. “Acadia moulded my confidence and independence in my first truly multicultural environment,” he recalls. “The faculty were teachers, mentors, and friends.”

Because of his experience, Yip wanted to give back, generously contributing to his alma mater in various areas. He helped fund the ambitious renovation of Patterson Hall in 2015, naming a classroom in honour of professor Paul Tom. He has established the Francis Yip Endowment for Student Opportunity in Business. The fund will create experiential opportunities for students to attend competitions, exchanges, and development programs. Yip also joined fellow alumni to become a Key Donor, part of a School of Music piano acquisition drive for 63 pianos.

“With an innovative, new core program that requires all Bachelor of Music students to be proficient on the keyboard, pianos have now become an absolute necessity,” explains Dr. Christianne Rushton (’98), Director, School of Music. “Donor support is making all the difference to our efforts to attract gifted students and enhance overall musicianship. We cannot thank them enough for their thoughtful generosity.”

Nancy Handrigan (’92), Campaign Director and Executive Director of Philanthropy, says the support of alumni and friends is crucial to the Campaign. “There’s no time like the present to campaign for Acadia. We want to build on the momentum that we’ve developed in recent years,” she says. “Together we can make a transformative difference for our students, and take our campus and facilities to the next level.”