Ambition has always been at the heart of Midland University’s “With Purpose” campaign.
The project, which began in 2016 shortly after the arrival of Midland University President Jody Horner, initially aimed to raise $30 million to help establish a foundation for the university over the coming years.
The campaign is geared toward utilizing donations to go toward a wide variety of programs and funds at the university, namely general sustainability and scholarship support, future sustainability support and capital improvement.
That $30 million goal seemed like a stretch at the time, but the number seemed to be attainable despite being the largest campaign in the university’s history, according to Jessica Janssen Wolford, vice president for institutional advancement.
Just two years later, the advancement team at Midland University was at the precipice of hitting the $30 million goal.
Janssen Wolford said the advancement team was challenged to raise an additional $20 million during the next three years.
In early March, Midland University announced the conclusion of its “With Purpose” Campaign after raising a total of $50 million in donations and future commitments.
Janssen Wolford said the completion of the “audacious” campaign has laid a groundwork for the university for years to come.
“We really feel so good about that because it ensures not only our current university experiences and environment, but it also means that we’ve got plans for future funding as well,” she said.
The $50 million in committed funds came from thousands of donors, including 650 first-time donors. While the goal of the campaign was to establish a strong foundation for the future at Midland, Janssen Wolford also noted the importance of reconnecting with the school’s alumni base.
“We traveled the country and really opened up our fundraising to our national alumni and to donors across the country,” she said. “We made trips to Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado and California to really learn what fueled the passion and vision of our alumni. I think it was truly that commitment to get out and see our alumni that made raising that level of funding possible.”
The campaign’s vision also includes addressing diversified undergraduate and graduate learning experiences, upgraded residential campus buildings, expanded athletic opportunities and increased efforts to discuss equity and inclusion in student life.
The university has seen a number of renovations since the campaign launched in 2016. Those additions include the recent completion of Miller Hall, a $10 million co-ed residence hall completed in 2020, and Midland 1:1 initiative, which provided each student on the university’s Fremont campus a free iPad and Apple Pencil.
The campaign also helped fund the Center for Graduate and Professionals Studies in Omaha, the COVID-19 Fund and other student scholarships during the past five years.
“Raising $50 million for scholarship support, capital improvements, academic program investments, and operational sustainability is an important milestone for Midland University and one that we will celebrate for years to come,” Horner said. “We are incredibly grateful for the dedication of our campaign chairs, leadership committee, and the board of directors for their support and commitment.”
The success in the campaign was tied to the university’s ability to reinvent its communication strategy, specifically among alumni, Janssen Wolford said.
“I think for awhile, the university just didn’t have the opportunity to really reach out to their alumni base and tell them what had been happening, both the good and the challenges and opportunities we are facing and why we need their support,” she said. “We’ve really refocused our communication efforts so that our alumni can be part of the conversation on an ongoing basis.”
Janssen Wolford said the funds help to ensure sustainability for Midland University for the future. Additionally, she said the ability to establish and maintain a foundation for giving among alumni and donors.
“We need to continue to be relevant in the technology that we’re providing our students in our classroom experiences and having these investments in those areas that we’ve committed to allows us to really assure our future is a bright one,” she said.
The funds raised during the five-year campaign are expected to play a major role in the university’s future in the coming years. Midland doesn’t have the fundraising and advancement capabilities as some larger universities, but Janssen Wolford said that can be beneficial to the way the university approaches fundraising.
“We feel every single dollar,” she said. “I sign every thank you note that goes out the door and we reflect on the individuals who have made those gifts, whether it is a $50 or $50,000 donation. These are individuals that have worked incredibly hard to make those funds and have really put thought and prayer behind how they want to see those funds used. It’s been an honor.”