When Illinois State’s fundraising campaign Redbirds Rising surpassed its $150 million goal with six months left in its projected time slot in June, the university was quietly on pace of achieving a record-breaking donation year.
A total of 25 people have given $1 million in single donations each over the course of Redbird Rising. Announced in 2017 but formed in 2013, the university’s plan to put money back into the pockets of those who experience life on campus, well, worked.
In this time, $10.7 million was accumulated in scholarship support, 42 new investment funds were created and over $16.3 million in cash donations were received, according to university data.
The College of Fine Arts received a record-setting amount of donations while the College of Education, Milner Library and WGLT received the highest amount of donations since 2013.
With ISU nearing the seven-year mark of fundraising, it is apparent that the outpouring support garnered has been used to fund different university programs.
But the real icing on the cake is that this influx of support benefits both students and faculty at the end of it all.
ISU President Larry Dietz made sure to make that clear in the university’s initial statement.
“The accomplishments achieved during the past fiscal year prove that we’re a university on the rise,” Dietz said. “Our donors are funding scholarships for current and future students, enhancing innovative programs, supporting inspiring faculty, and creating transformational learning spaces.”
“A university on the rise” plays into what ISU’s tagline of Redbirds Rising truly means. As Illinois’ first public university, the idea of Illinois State being on the rise to something greater than it already is seems taboo, considering it was the first.
These fundraising totals not only showcase the attachment both alumni and donors feel to Illinois State, but creates a feel-good aura campus-wide.
Renovations to Watterson Dining Commons and the Bone Student Center were direct projects funded from the Redbirds Rising campaign, as well as the week-long Birds Give Back initiative, which raised over $625,000.
The university is outwardly giving back to students and its faculty, making campus more pleasing to be on as well as more enticing to incoming freshman.
Within the university’s continuation of Redbirds Rising into the end of this year, it seems to be only up from here for Illinois State.
Revitalizing the university with projects such as Redbird Arena, among many others, is another notch on its belt to allure visitors, students and more importantly new private and alumni donors.
ISU Foundation Board of Directors Chairman Eric Burwell said it best, as the fund’s growth reflects the image of the university.
“The endowment’s growth is a reflection of the upward trajectory of Illinois State,” he stated. “The Redbird community is investing significantly in the direction of the University.”
While ISU’s growth is used as a stepping stone towards future progress, for right now, it shows that now is the time to be one of those Redbirds that continue to rise to the occasion.