Campaign for Oswego launches on 'Today'

imageShortly after 9 a.m. this morning, the message of the Campaign for Oswego reached America as around two dozen enthusiastic SUNY Oswego students and Al Roker mentioned it live on the NBC-TV “Today” show.

The appearance of the students clad in yellow T-shirts—also interacting with Katie Couric as she joked about an Elvis butter sculpture—kicked off a day full of activities launching the Campaign for Oswego. Other highlights will inlude hundreds of students spelling out “Oswego” this afternoon and campus visits from Roker and other distinguished alumni. (See a special photo gallery of the students’ visit.)

Members of the campus community are asked to join a family portrait by becoming part of the word “Oswego” at the field next to Lee Hall at 3:30 p.m. The first 1,000 people to show up will receive a free T-shirt. The ensuing group picture will become a mainstay image as the college’s first-ever major fundraising campaign continues.

“The family portrait will communicate that the strength of Oswego lies in its people,” said Kevin Mahaney, vice president of development and alumni relations. The image will be used in print and electronic campaigns, and perhaps posters and other forms. Donors and prospective donors unable to make the campaign launch event will receive the picture as well, he said.

The Sept. 30 launch represents the college moving out from the silent portion to the public phase of the campaign, which has a goal of $17 million. While many public and private colleges around the country have conducted such comprehensive campaigns, this effort is fairly new to SUNY colleges, Mahaney said.

“The campaign kickoff is designed to celebrate our success so far in raising more than $12.2 million toward our $17 million goal, to thank the donors who have made this possible and to motivate and encourage others to join the effort,” President Deborah F. Stanley said. “The launch is a celebration of the Oswego community and of all that we have achieved and can yet achieve together.”

The campaign’s $17 million goal encompasses three subcategories. The $4 million sought for endowment support will fund scholarships, department excellence funds and faculty support. A $5 million goal for capital projects includes gifts that helped turn Rich Hall into a state-of-the-art School of Business, established the Lake Effect Cafe in Penfield Library and will support parts of the Campus Center and Swetman-Poucher complex redevelopment. The campaign targets $8 million toward the Fund for Oswego, the annual fund to augment unrestricted and current program support.

One thread of the campaign is to provide what Mahaney termed a “margin of excellence” or a reliable financial base given fiscal uncertainty in levels of government support. He pointed to the amount of state tax funds in Oswego’s operating budget declining from 54.17 percent in 1975 to 22.25 percent for the current fiscal year.

“This is a most exciting time for the campus since this is our first-ever capital campaign,” said Bernie Henderson, co-chair of the Campaign for Oswego. “The campaign will support the achievements and opportunities for Oswego students and faculty well into the future.”

The campaign also raises awareness “that Oswego—like any other college—can thrive and achieve great things when people who care are willing to provide the resources needed for excellence,” Mahaney said.

SUNY Oswego students will visit NBC’s “Today” show in the morning, then Roker is expected to come to Oswego and take part in a number of campus activities.

For more information on launch events or the Campaign for Oswego, call 312-3003.

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(Posted: Sep 21, 2005)