Economy May Slow Down Capital Campaign

Phillips Academy’s ongoing capital campaign, aiming to raise $300 million dollars, $100 million more than its last campaign and a record in prep school fundraising, may eventually be slowed by the recent economic crisis. Peter Ramsey, Secretary of the Academy, will ask the Board of Trustees next weekend to approve this goal formally, in addition to proposed sets of priorities and a name and theme for the campaign. Ramsey added, “At the same time, given the financial crisis worldwide, we have to discuss if this [campaign] is timely in this [economic] environment.” Since the campaign began, $150 million has been pledged and $100 million of those pledges has been received. Ramsey said the campaign will go public on April 30, after being in a “quiet phase” since July 1, 2005. “There’s no question, at least in my mind, that things will be different. Some people can continue [to contribute], [but] others can’t,” said Ramsey. “We as a team are committed to reaching everyone. It’s important to talk to donors and volunteers all the time, not just when you want their money.” Ramsey continued, “We must continue to be, as always, respectful of others. We can’t now assume everybody’s in good [financial] shape.” Nancy Jeton, Special Assistant to the Head of School, said that the Trustees will have to set a “realistic” goal given the economic climate, and that the school might raise money more slowly than it usually does. “People want to contribute,” said Jeton. “They want to be part of the school’s success.” In addition to discussing the campaign’s prudence given economic conditions, the Trustees will discuss institutional priorities, which Ramsey divided into five entities: annual giving, support for faculty, support for students, improving facilities and a growing commitment to “experiential learning” opportunities, which will include both opportunities off-campus and academic programs. Ramsey said the meeting “represents an important set of decisions for the campaign, but it represents the final set.” The Trustees will also discuss the proposed allocation of the funds: $65 million is slated to go to financial aid spending, $55 million to the endowment and $10 million for current spending, such as term scholarships. Nancy Jeton, Special Assistant to the Head of School, said an important objective of the capital campaign is to fund “capital projects.” These projects include the renovations of the Addison Gallery and Commons, as well as planned renovations of Bulfinch and the addition of two small dorms. Jeton said that the addition of two dorms is meant to shift the ratio of boarder to day students to 75 percent, as stated in the 2004 Strategic Plan. The Trustees will decide if they can support the entire set, formally adopt a specific monetary goal and decide on a name and theme. “Youth from Every Quarter” is one such proposed title. Of the $100 million the school has received so far, Ramsey said it has been used to fund the first year of financial aid during need-blind admissions, the renovations of the Addison Gallery and Commons, faculty salaries and general academic needs. According to Jeton, Barbara Chase, Head of School, frequently meets with alumni groups off campus to keep them up-to-date on the campaign. Jeton said Chase meets with either small alumni groups for special events, even smaller focus groups for specific initiatives, or donors on an individual basis. A financial aid task force, also part of the capital campaign, met Tuesday between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m., Jeton said. The taskforce consists of a group of about 20 alums that were “handpicked” by Andover and the Trustees, Ramsey said. It is chaired by Robert Campbell ’66 and Tammy Snyder Murphy ’83. Murphy said that at the meeting, the taskforce reviewed its financial aid “case statement,” which outlined why the group thought raising money to support financial aid, and need-blind admission in particular, was important. “The case statement is a compilation of many people’s thought and many people’s approaches. It’s trying to answer anticipated questions, testing ourselves to make sure we thought through everything we need to think through,” said Murphy. Murphy said the case statement will be presented to potential capital campaign donors to “explain [the importance] to somebody who knows nothing about need-blind and have them make a case among themselves about why it’s important.” Murphy added that some members of the task force have personally contributed to the campaign. According to Ramsey, the taskforce works with members of the Office of Academy Resources, the Admissions Office, the Financial Aid Office and Charter Trustee Daniel Cuningham ’67, the Trustees’ liaison to the taskforce. “[The taskforce] is vital to the overall leadership of the campaign,” said Ramsey. Ramsey said in the past year, the Andover Fund, which is Andover’s annual giving fund, received a record $8.8 million. Thanks to a $25 million donation from Oscar Tang ’56, President of the Board of Trustees, the school raised a record $55 million in new gifts and pledges in the past fiscal year. Ramsey said that parts of Tang’s donation have been used to fund the Addison renovation, the Andover Fund and financial aid, but that most of it has yet to be designated. Tang is chairman of the capital campaign, and honorary co-chairs are former Board of Trustees President David M. Underwood ’54, chairman of the last capital campaign, which ended in 2002, and Donna Brace Ogilvie ’31.