Fundraising campaign launched

Rachel Yeates, Campus Carrier News Editor

This past spring, the Berry board of trustees announced the public launch of a multimillion dollar capital campaign. The Life Ready campaign is, at the time of publication, $75 million into its $100 million goal.

The campaign is set to last into 2022 and will target areas of improvement around campus such as growing scholarship and leadership opportunities for students, building a new welcome center and football stadium, as well as providing needed renovations to Blackstone Hall, Ford Auditorium, and additions to McAllister Hall.

Students can already see evidence of the campaign on campus. According to Scott Breithaupt, assistant vice president of campaign and leadership giving (91C, 96G), an early donation in the silent pre-public portion of the campaign, which started back in 2008, was used to fund the Gate of Opportunity scholarship program.

                                   Jason Huynh, Photojournalism Editor
Banners line the streets in the main campus advertising the
new campaign. 

“Part of the campaign was to raise money for 130 [Gate of Opportunity] scholarships,” junior Haley Hasting, director of the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship Program, said. “I think it was such a big part of the campaign because, as the Gate Scholars Program, we’re doing every possible thing we can to make students ready for life.”

By raising money for scholarships like this, more students will be able to consider Berry in their college search and graduate with fewer student loans.

Sophomore Maddie Ludvik, a Gate scholar said that the scholarship made it possible for her to come to Berry.

“The opportunity to be able to work my way and then have somebody else who’s generous enough to help me is a huge, huge blessing,” Ludvik said.

Breithaupt said $34 million has been raised toward student scholarships so far.

Other visible changes include the Valhalla stadium and the Welcome Center.

Donors are able to specify the projects they want their money to help fund. Valhalla stadium and the Welcome Center have already received a majority of their funding and can begin construction, but other projects, such as renovations to Blackstone, Ford Auditorium and McAllister, still need more fundraising.

However, it is hard to tell how much time that fundraising will take.

“A normal campaign for a multimillion dollar project is usually about five years from starting from scratch to raising the money,” Breithaupt said. “We hope that we can get these projects done in the short term, so the students who are here now can benefit from them, but it’s really not clear when they’re going to start.”

Alumnus Alex Middleton (12C) is optimistic about Life Ready. He works as the interactive and social media specialist in the Office of Public Relations and Marketing. and assisted in early promotion for the campaign.

“It’s going to make things a lot better, and I promise you I am not just giving you [public relations] speak answers with this,” Middleton said. “These are my genuine opinions.”

He remembers the campaign kickoff event in May at the St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta.

“The big reveal at the end of the night was how much money the campaign has raised,” he said. “We’d been in the mid [60 millions] in the silent phase of the campaign … and then at the event, Barry Griswell, who’s on Berry’s board of trustees, was speaking and saying ‘We’ve consulted this group; they say if we can hit $70 million by the time of our launch, we’ll probably have a successful campaign,’ and he was like ‘well ladies and gentlemen, we have $73 million tonight,’ so there was a big celebration.”

Middleton expects the goal amount of the campaign to be raised “closer to $115 or 120 million based on how we do in the next three years.”

Berry’s last campaign of this magnitude was the Century Campaign which began in 1999 and ended in 2006. The campaign funded the construction of McAllister Hall and renovations to the Charter School of Education and Human Sciences. It also began funding for The Cage Athletic Center, but when additional money was needed, a smaller and more specific campaign for the athletic center began in 2006 and lasted three years.

“Once the Cage was done, we started thinking about what’s going to happen next, what are the needs across campus, and that’s how [Life Ready] began to grow and take shape,” Briethaupt said.

Middleton feels confident knowing the people in charge of Life Ready are seasoned fundraisers.

“It’s a big strength for Berry that the advancement officers and the leadership of this campaign … have done this before,” Middleton said.

Hasting, who, along with her Gates scholar duties, is also part of a committee to spread awareness about the campaign, is excited to be at Berry while Life Ready gets started. “This is a really cool time for us as students because we’re going to be able to leave a legacy here,” Hasting said, “and also it’s a really cool time for us because there are so many opportunities … to help us become better students and better citizens.”

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