Funds will support student scholarship, facilities
ABERDEEN, S.D. - Nearly seven years ago, a group of Northern supporters
and community leaders met in a closed-door session at a local restaurant and set a lofty goal for raising money for NSU.
Today, that target has been met – and exceeded. The Northern Impact campaign ended this summer at just more than $29 million, almost $2 million over the original goal. The money will be used primarily for student scholarships.
“We are extremely grateful to those who stepped up and wrote the check,” said Jim Thares, chair of the NSU Foundation. “I think we convinced people that Northern really is an economic driver for our region.
"Not only do the 3,500 students
generate millions of dollars of revenue within the region, but the payroll for 300 faculty and staff and the impact that literally hundreds of fine arts, athletic and special events have annually on the local economy is astounding.”
The previous and first campaign in NSU history had raised just shy of $7 million. The meeting of leaders nearly seven years ago was designed to lay out strategy for a capital campaign that would push Northern to the next level.
“We brought in a consultant who recommended that we could fundraise between $21 million and $24 million,” said Todd Jordre, president and CEO of the NSU Foundation. “We knew that if we were to be successful, we would have to part
with conventional thinking and the consultant and raise much more.”
The group decided to forge ahead without a consultant and recruit gifts using a grassroots effort.
“Early on, we felt we wanted to set ‘stretch’ goals that would really raise the bar on what had been done at Northern and, quite frankly, in the Aberdeen region in the past,” said Jim Koehler, campaign chair and longtime NSU Foundation supporter and board member. “It got kind of tough for me to get a lunch date once we started asking for money.”
“The WolfPACT Scholarship Program needed an immediate injection of nearly $10 million to keep it growing and expanding,” said NSU President Dr. James Smith. “When I got to campus four years ago, they had real momentum going, and I was happy to get on board with travel and making asks for support right away.”
The committee had set a goal of $27.2 million, which many thought was a bit aggressive.
“However, I looked at the community members involved and the volunteer base and thought right away we could make it,” said Smith.
The five-year campaign ended June 30 with total gifts and pledges reaching $29,004,000.
With the campaign complete, one might assume that the fundraising efforts of the NSU Foundation may cool down for a few years.
“Dr. Smith has put together a good team on campus and a strategic plan that lays out some pretty big aspirations and dreams,” Jordre said. “You never really quit raising money in higher education; you simply focus on new challenges and bigger goals.”
Pictured, from top: Smith, Jordre, Thares