July 08, 2008

Opportunity Through Excellence surpasses goal

by Greg Scott

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Foundation has surpassed the goal of its Opportunity Through Excellence Campaign for Southern, a six-year, $100-million fundraising drive.

Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation, announced the success of the campaign today (July 8).

McCurry says final figures will be unveiled during a campaign celebration, scheduled for Oct. 3 on the SIU Carbondale campus.

“This is a thrilling and historic accomplishment for SIU Carbondale. The contributions of more than 67,000 alumni and donors enabled us to reach the goal of our first-ever comprehensive campaign,” says McCurry, who spearheaded the unprecedented effort. “Every gift made a difference in this endeavor. We greatly appreciate the support and generosity of everyone who made this campaign a success. Our alumni, donors, volunteers, and advancement staff really came through.”

Opportunity Through Excellence, initiated in July 2002, was coordinated to support the people, programs and places of the University. SIU Carbondale’s unprecedented effort focused on raising funds from private sources to create additional scholarships and graduate assistantships for students, embellish faculty positions and enhance University programs and facilities.

The Foundation, which is governed by a board of directors, coordinated efforts with a corps of volunteers to assist in attaining its goal. A steering committee, comprised of alumni and friends across the United States, worked closely with Foundation officials in pursuit of its $100-million goal.

“The success of our first comprehensive campaign is a tribute to the efforts of Vice Chancellor McCurry, his staff and the many campaign volunteers here and across the country,” Interim Chancellor Samuel Goldman said. “Most importantly, we are extremely grateful to all those individuals who contributed, no matter how large or small the gift. Their generosity will have a significant impact on current and future students and enhance the teaching, research and service efforts of our faculty and staff.”

Marsha Ryan, a 1987 SIUC law graduate, served as national chair of Opportunity Through Excellence. Ryan says the campaign’s success exhibits the difference alumni and donors can make at Southern.

"The success of this -- our first major campaign -- is due to the willingness of our alumni and friends to donate to a school near and dear to their hearts. They see the successes of the university and have stepped up generously to support it,” Ryan says. “State funding continues to dwindle, so private support remains the best and surest way of guaranteeing that the university can do its work of education and research. The end of this campaign marks the beginning of the next. We must continue to raise friends and funds so the university can work its magic for generations of students to come.”

Roger Tedrick, chair of the SIU Board of Trustees and a 1970 SIU Carbondale graduate, says this achievement could be a sign of things to come for the University.

“Everyone who contributed to this successful campaign can take pride in knowing they are making a difference at Southern. It truly takes all of us to move this University forward,” he says. “We have a strong base of supporters who care deeply about this institution. SIU will continue to prosper as a result.”