VSU’s Invest. Ignite. Inspire. Campaign Raises $30 Million in Eight Months

Jessica Pope

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

President William J. McKinney announced Monday that the University Advancement team has already raised $30,184,902.55 through Valdosta State’s first-ever comprehensive capital campaign — Invest. Ignite. Inspire. The Campaign for Valdosta State University. 

Invest. Ignite. Inspire. The Campaign for Valdosta State University kicked off on July 1, 2014. With the support of VSU’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends, University Advancement hopes to continue to gain momentum as it strives to reach its working five-year campaign goal of $53,250,000.

“This campaign has the capacity to change our culture and secure the financial resources necessary to address our challenges,” McKinney shared. “This campaign will change the mindset of the entire institution.”

Invest. Ignite. Inspire. The Campaign for Valdosta State University is the natural evolution of the university’s bold strategic plan, which was developed in 2012 and represents a campus-wide commitment to the principles that underpin an innovative and engaged comprehensive institution like VSU. The campaign is also a tactical response to a new funding model for higher education that is expected to place greater weight on measurable outcomes like student retention and graduation rates.

“Campaigns are about something bigger than ourselves,” noted Dr. Hudson P. Rogers, provost. “They are about investing in our students, transforming society, and ultimately living beyond ourselves. A comprehensive capital campaign offers the opportunity to move the university up in standing in the region, state, and nation. This is good for our region, good for our students, and good for our nation. Capital campaigns help us implement our vision.”

With Invest. Ignite. Inspire. The Campaign for Valdosta State University VSU is making the crucial choices that will allow it to thrive in a new era for higher education in Georgia. It is taking the necessary steps to control is own destiny.

Funds raised through Invest. Ignite. Inspire. The Campaign for Valdosta State University will aid in the further development of five key areas — scholarship support, faculty enhancements, programmatic opportunities, athletics excellence, and facility upgrades.

VSU wants to significantly increase the number and dollar amount of scholarship offerings in the hope of enhancing its ability to recruit, retain, and graduate high-achieving students.

“Our ability to recruit and retain students is paramount to our mission,” explained John Crawford, vice president for University Advancement. “We do not want to simply be a university. We want to be a great university, and we are.”

VSU wants to support enhanced faculty development and make it easier for high-quality educators to pursue their passions in specific fields and conduct research that has the potential to improve the health and economic well being for people and businesses locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

VSU wants to invest in new opportunities and technologies in the classroom to ensure its students are prepared to excel today, tomorrow, and for years to come. It wants to create a new Marketing Resource Laboratory, which will allow the newly created Department of Marketing to provide experiential learning opportunities through consultation projects in the local community. It also wants to create a Southeastern Center for Education Innovation, which will focus on developing innovative approaches to creating more productive learning outcomes in K-12 education and teacher preparation; a Center for Experiential Learning, which will enable students from a variety of academic disciplines and colleges to engage with members of the community to achieve learning outcomes in a real-world setting; a Center for Business Engagement, which will allow the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration to expand its reach throughout South Georgia and North Florida by providing a wide array of business consulting services to the greater business community; and a Center for Health Care Information Technology, which will seek to develop new programs in health care informatics and other areas of the exploding health care information technology industry.

“We must always be innovative in our approaches and must constantly examine what we do to improve the outcome we have with our graduates,” noted Dr. Brian Gerber, interim dean of the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services. “We must strive to assure we are bringing students to higher levels of learning.”

VSU wants to advance athletics excellence to increase opportunities to recruit top-tier student-athletes who are able to manage their academic and athletic obligations as they engage in goal-driven environments with high expectations and meaningful consequences. The university boasts one of the most successful National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II programs in the nation and hopes to maintain that winning tradition on and off the field, court, or course.

VSU wants to invest in facilities. One of the largest areas of investment will be in the College of the Arts, which promotes an atmosphere of academic and creative excellence through student-centered, comprehensive professional and liberal arts degree programs. Upgrades to studios, practice rooms, and performance areas will provide arts students with a sense of pride, as they will be able to showcase their hard work in state-of-the art facilities.

“What we must understand about art students is this: The more professional the facility, the more competitive they will be as graduates,” shared McKinney. “The more professional the facility, the greater our ability to recruit talented students to campus. Now we recruit based on faculty.

“If we had the faculty and the facility, we could be a powerhouse in the arts.”

Dr. H. Brantley Jenkins Jr., a retired professor of physics at VSU, is honorary chairman of Invest. Ignite. Inspire. The Campaign for Valdosta State University. His co-chairmen and co-chairwoman are Jerry J. Jennett, chief executive officer and quality manager of Georgia Gulf Sulphur Corporation; Laura Lynn Miller, a 1972 VSU graduate and community health care entrepreneur; David M. Ratcliffe, a 1970 VSU graduate and retired chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Southern Company; and J. Thomas Wiley Jr., a 1975 VSU graduate and vice chairman and president of State Bank Financial Corporation.   

Visit www.valdosta.edu/inspire for more information about each of the five focus areas and ways to give.

By the Numbers:

• 81 — Percentage of first-year scholarship students who return to VSU the following year.

• 85 — Percentage of VSU students who receive some sort of financial aid.