Taking the LEAD Campaign Surpasses the $20 Million Mark

Submitted by Chuck Steenburgh on May 13, 2024 - 8:11 am
May 13, 2024
By Chuck Steenburgh

St. Mary’s College of Maryland has surpassed its $20 million goal—a year ahead of schedule—through the Taking the LEAD comprehensive fundraising campaign. To maintain the campaign’s momentum and maximize the vision and initiatives of outgoing President Tuajuanda C. Jordan, the campaign will now transition to the “How High Can We Fly?” phase for the final year, concluding in June 2025.

“I am deeply moved by the transformational changes we are experiencing as our College ascends to its zenith. And, I marvel at the crucial private support we receive from our community,” President Jordan expressed. “The generosity of our alumni, friends, families, faculty, staff and students has been nothing short of extraordinary. Your unwavering belief in our mission is inspiring and I am profoundly grateful.”

The achievement was marked by a new commitment from the Landers Trust, announced on May 10 during a St. Mary’s College Board of Trustees meeting, which helped push the total raised for Taking the LEAD to $20,087,012.

The campaign was crafted as a bold vision for the future, helping to prepare students to thrive as responsible and thoughtful citizens and leaders. Since the quiet phase began July 1, 2020, Taking the LEAD has been gaining considerable momentum and creating positive change. With the public launch in September 2023, the campaign fully supported the goals outlined in the College’s ambitious strategic plan, The Rising Tide: creating an innovative academic identity, empowering all students for success, fostering inclusivity and developing mutually beneficial opportunities with communities across the region.

“The campaign’s success has surpassed our expectations because our donors recognize that St. Mary’s College is an investment worth making,” said Helen Mattingly Wernecke, chair of the Taking the LEAD Campaign Steering Committee. “We have every confidence that this next year of giving will continue to propel the College forward in significant ways on behalf of all students.”

Taking the LEAD has already had a significant impact. Projects funded include:

  • constructing a track and field, allowing the College to add a new varsity men's and women's sport
  • building an academic Marine Science lab and refurbishing science labs
  • purchasing much-needed equipment for academics and athletics
  • augmenting the Honors College Promise with funds for student internships, international immersion experiences and research projects
  • enhancing the Dodge Performing Arts Center, new majors, and faculty innovation
  • and contributing more than $7.5 million in scholarships

After successfully completing the Landers Challenge in June 2023 – with the College raising over $600,000 to receive a $1 million investment from the Landers Trust – the College secured an additional commitment of $500,000 to expand the Landers Scholars program. The premier scholarship provides fully funded four-year scholarships (tuition, fees, room and board), including first-year mentoring and community service opportunities, to students who are from low-income backgrounds, the first in their families to attend college and/or are underrepresented in higher education. The number of first-year students selected each academic year will grow from four to six beginning with 2024-25.

The Landers Trust joins a distinguished list of donors whose cumulative giving is $1 million or more including SMCM Foundation Director Scott Raspa ’86 who made the largest planned gift commitment in the College’s history; friend of the College Nancy Dodge who made the biggest outright gift in the College’s history to name the Nancy R. and Norton T. Dodge Performing Arts Center; Professor of the College Don Stabile who made two significant commitments for scholarships, one to ignite the quiet phase and another to ignite the public phase of the campaign; and former College Trustee and SMCM Foundation Director Bill Seale, who answered the call multiple times, providing funds to jumpstart the new business administration and track and field programs.

Instrumental in cultivating and giving gifts have been the College’s Foundation Board of Directors, Board of Trustees, Campaign Steering Committee and Alumni Council.

“Eclipsing $20 million a year early in the campaign timeline is cause for celebration, but the journey does not end here,” said Carolyn Curry, vice president for Institutional Advancement. “The campaign’s energy is boundless. We have 120 donors making five- and six-figure gifts, but we are most humbled that we’ve received more than 19,700 gifts so far. Every single dollar matters.”

The campaign will continue under the banner “How High Can We Fly” until President Jordan’s retirement in June 2025, ensuring the College has the critical funds to fuel an experiential, liberal arts honors education and, in President Jordan’s words, “become the college of choice for generations to come.”