“I know that the world is going to change, and, therefore, the University must change with it,” A.J. Drexel notoriously said.
Drexel’s latest fundraising campaign, which aims to raise $750 million to enhance the future of the university, coincides with the original aspirations instilled into the university.
The campaign, which President John A. Fry has dubbed the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the history of the university, will support a wide range of sectors, including providing funding for unpaid co-ops and various scholarships, supporting global opportunities and research endeavors, and improving academic advising and related student support services, all whilst bolstering civic engagement and campus life more generally.
“It will have a transformative impact on fulfilling our mission as an experience-based education institution,” Dave Unruh, senior vice president of the Office of Institutional Advancement, said. “It will make sure students can be the most successful that they deserve to be, that they have the financial resources that they need and that faculty have the resources that they need to be the very best teachers and researchers.”
The campaign’s theme is “The Future Is a Place We Make,” which Unruh says perfectly encapsulates what Drexel is as an institution.
“The idea of ‘making’ is one that is very powerful at Drexel, both in tangible and more abstract ways. … Our ability to shape the future, rather than just be recipients of the future, is very powerful and very real,” he said. “We’re not just waiting for things to happen and responding to them; we’re preparing ourselves, our students and our community to be successful in an ever-changing world,” he continued.
Unruh said that ultimately, the campaign will improve the ability for all students to take advantage of the very best and the most compelling experiential opportunities possible.
“That’s what we do as an institution. We prepare students very practically and pragmatically for success in their life,” he said. “We make prepared students, we build things as an institution, we work in the community to make lives better — to make neighborhoods better — and we find solutions to complex problems,” he said.
The campaign will ensure that the university is providing resources to support the people and the programs that are helping to shape the university’s future, Unruh said.
“Whether it’s a faculty member or team developing new cutting edge polymers, or materials that are changing our clothing with technology-advanced materials, or whether it’s students working through the neighborhoods with one of the community-based learning courses where they’re engaging with prisoners in the jail or sick children at CHOP, or whether it’s a traditional co-op experience where they’re learning how to be professional or expanding the world and how to apply their academic skills, Drexel is a remarkable place to do that,” he said.
Unruh says that he hopes the money raised through the campaign will relieve students and faculty of some of the financial burdens they must encounter so they can reach their true potentials.
Members of the Office of Institutional Advancement, including Unruh, have worked with President Fry, Provost M. Brian Blake and deans and faculty across the university — while also factoring in student voices — to bring the campaign into fruition. With its foundational phase beginning in 2013, the campaign is projected to conclude on June 30, 2021.
So far, more than 31,000 donors have committed over $410 million, which is almost equivalent to the amount raised in Drexel’s previous campaign, “Dream It. Do It.”
Unruh says that Drexel’s ability to lead and be successful in this campaign is a reflection of Drexel itself.
“It reveals that we are an incredibly powerful and distinctive institution with the ability to tackle really complex problems,” he said. “And our ability to find solutions to those challenging issues in society is really enhanced by our scope and our scale.”
In addition, he says the campaign is proof of Drexel’s progression since it was initially established.
“I don’t know if we could claim a theme like ‘The Future Is a Place We Make’ if we were still the Drexel Institute of Technology,” he said.
Unruh explained that Drexel is in a better position to demonstrate interdisciplinary and creative thinking now that it has established a law school, a medical environment with a hospital, a community-based program and a residential system that brings people together.
While the campaign is intended to improve the current state of the university, Unruh emphasized that it will have a long-lasting impact.
“The campaign is a direct reflection of that and our aspirations to continue to do that even better,” he said. “At the end of the campaign, we should be able to look back and point at very specific ways in which our ability to deliver and fulfill our mission and the quality of the experience our students and faculty have and their ability to do really engaging, meaningful experiences was improved.”
“These and all campaign gifts are a clear signal that Drexel’s leadership and alumni believe in the University’s mission and vision and are committed to securing its place as a higher education leader,” president John A. Fry wrote on DrexelNow.
More information about the campaign can be found at future.drexel.edu.