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Seven Months ahead of Schedule,The New Oberlin Century Campaign Meets Its $165 Million Target
By Anne C. Paine

The New Oberlin Century,the largest fund-raising drive in Oberlin College history, is a success. Four recent major gifts totaling $5 million allowed the College to meet the campaign goal of $165 million. President Nancy S. Dye announced the news in early December.

The campaign, which concludes June 30, 2004, is now positioned to raise well beyond $165 million, the goal set at the start of the drive in 1999.

"Oberlin's success is especially noteworthy given the economic uncertainty that has gripped the nation for the past several years," says Dye. "In the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks and the resulting economic downturn, donors became very wary. Oberlin's success shows how highly alumni and friends value the College's traditions of equity, excellence, and generosity. We're extremely grateful for their support, and, of course, for the support of the four major donors who have put us over the top."

One of those four, an anonymous donor from the West Coast, pledged $2.5 million in support of the Oberlin College Science Center. This five-year pledge also earned an additional $500,000 in matching funds from the Thomas Klutznick Science Center Challenge, a special incentive created by the chair of the College's Board of Trustees to attract gifts of $25,000 or more to the construction project. The Science Center project involved both renovation and new construction and resulted in a 223,000- squarefoot, state-of-the-art science facility used by students and faculty members. The center houses the biology, chemistry, physics, and neuroscience departments and was dedicated in October 2002.

Vice President of Development and Alumni Affairs Ernest Iseminger worked with the anonymous donor for four years.

"Securing major gifts often involves establishing or reestablishing relatioships — educating donors about the current situation at Oberlin and helping them realize that Oberlin is an extremely sound investment," he says."Over time, this particular donor became more and more impressed with Oberlin's excellent record of educating future scientists."

The second of the four gifts — a $1 million pledge in support of the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies — is from Adam J. Lewis. Lewis has a long history of supporting the building, which opened in January 2000 and is named for him. The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have both highlighted the Lewis Center as an excellent example of sustainable architecture.Lewis' gift will help ensure that the Lewis Center remains a leader in the quest to find ways to design "green" buildings that help support, rather than detract from, their environment.

The third gift, a $500,000 pledge from a private foundation, will endow a fund to support Oberlin's engineering program and the applied sciences. In Oberlin's engineering program, students study at Oberlin for three years and at an affiliated engineering school for two years, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree from Oberlin and a bachelor of science in engineering degree from the affiliated school.

The fourth gift was the $295,000 remainder interest from the charitable remainder trust of John H. Nichols '11. The trust initially benefited his wife, Catherine Nichols '14, followed by his son, John R. Nichols '58, who died in May. This bequest will provide important unrestricted funds to support the current-use needs of the College, including financial aid for current students.