United States, Maine, Bar Harbor - 08/05/2019 — College of Atlantic announces the biggest fundraising drive in the school’s history, a $50 million capital campaign to endow new student scholarships, create state-of-the-art, environmentally sustainable academic and residential spaces, and transition to a fossil fuel-free campus.
The Broad Reach Campaign for College of the Atlantic’s Future has already raised $41 million in gifts and pledges, an amount that COA President Darron Collins ’92 says highlights “an extraordinary level of support and enthusiasm from our community of trustees, alumni and friends.”
“At College of the Atlantic we cultivate students’ passions and abilities to take on the wicked problems at the boundary between humanity and the environment,” Collins said. “The Broad Reach campaign is about helping us thrive for generations to come. If ever there was a need for a College of the Atlantic in this world, it’s right now.”
The Broad Reach campaign is the most ambitious in COA’s nearly five-decade history. The campaign developed out of a strategic planning process which drew from participants across all levels of the COA community, Collins said. As the most urgent priorities in the strategic plan were considered, the structure of the campaign took shape.
The campaign is buoyed by a matching gift ensuring all future donations will be maximized, said COA Dean of Institutional Advancement Lynn Boulger.
"We are really excited to share the news that an anonymous donor has made a $7.5M challenge grant that will match every donation 1:2. meaning for every gift given, the donor will add an additional 50 percent,” Boulger said.
At the heart of the campaign is a $22 million project that will reimagine the north end of campus. The work includes the creation of a 30,000 square foot, high energy-performance academic building overlooking Frenchman Bay, a new art gallery and experimental theater, and a new welcome center for College admissions, which will act as an intentional “front door” for the college.
Construction of the $10 million Center for Human Ecology, the first phase of the campus reimagining project, broke ground this spring, thanks to lead gifts from the Trustees of the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, led by Andrew Davis, and Trustees of College of the Atlantic.
“College of the Atlantic is a place where exceptional students discover how to design an education fitted to precisely the goals of that student instead of accepting a preordained set of requirements,” Davis said. “From Mt. Desert Rock to Boothbay Harbor to the summit of Mount Katahdin, Maine provides nature's laboratory for environmental study and College of the Atlantic is perfectly placed to take advantage of that—and does so with the creativity and vigor of its outstanding professors and students.”
The campaign earmarks $8 million for new scholarships meant to enable students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to earn degrees from COA. The school is committed to welcoming first-generation college students, students from rural Maine, and students from abroad, said COA Dean of Admission Heather Albert-Knopp.
“We want to insure that every student who is accepted to COA can afford to be at COA,” Albert-Knopp said. “Education is the key lever to social mobility, and scholarships level the playing field for those whose families cannot afford higher education.”
New student residences are a key element of the Broad Reach campaign, with $5 million set for providing a mix of on- and off-campus housing for 100 additional students. The school currently houses just 45 percent of the student body. Funding from the campaign would push that closer to 75 percent, according to campaign materials.
COA’s purchase of six townhouse apartments just to the north of campus this spring was one step toward this campaign goal, opening up rentals for 30 students, said COA spokesperson Rob Levin, adding that the school would likely build on-campus housing for a further 50 students in the coming years with the success of the campaign.
With an earmark of $3.5 million, the fossil fuel-free campus initiative is a key part of COA’s campaign. Driven by students, the College’s ambitious Energy Framework calls for creating what would be the first fossil fuel-free college campus in the US. As COA’s campus mixes new construction with repurposed historic buildings, much of the work will involve conservation—better insulation, windows, roofs, and doors—as it will new, cleaner, sustainable energy systems.
“We want to set a new bar for sustainability, and our goal is to get our heating, electricity, and transportation fueled completely by renewable energy,” President Collins said.
The Broad Reach campaign is also focused heavily on academics, with the goal of raising $7.5 million toward endowing six new faculty chairs. Such funds help the college offer competitive salary and benefits packages when recruiting new faculty, Boulger said.
“Our faculty are exceptional in their commitment to teaching excellence and to exploring the big questions facing our world today. Endowed faculty chairs helps us recruit and retain the very brightest and best teachers,” she said.
Over the past ten years, COA has seen a trend of enrollment growth, college officials said, with the incoming 2019-20 first-year class on track to be the second-largest in the college's history. The COA student body is 25% international, from more than 45 countries, with domestic students coming from more than 40 states.
Mount Desert Island resident and new COA Trustee Cookie Horner said that the campaign effort will help to ensure that COA continues to thrive and enrich Mount Desert Island and the world.
“It is remarkable that this small college, in a relatively short time has turned out these amazing human ecologists doing such great things for our planet and its people all over the globe,” Horner said. “COA has become the cultural/educational center of our community, a terrific partner to the towns and organizations on MDI, and to Acadia National Park, as both students and faculty develop projects and solutions of all kinds to improve our lives and our environment.”
To learn more about the Broad Reach campaign, visit coa.edu/broadreachcampaign.
College of the Atlantic believes that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is to enabling students to actively shape the future. COA is a leader in experiential learning and environmental stewardship, and is the Princeton Review’s #1 Green College 2016-2018. Every COA student designs their own major in human ecology—which integrates knowledge from across academic disciplines and seeks to understand and improve the relationships between humans and their natural, built, and social environments—and sets their own path toward a degree. The intentionally small school of 350 students and 35 faculty members was founded in 1969 and offers Bachelor of Arts and Master of Philosophy degrees.
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