Randolph-Macon College celebrates $125M in gifts that it's using to add 'curb appeal'

February 19, 2016

Source: Karin Kapsidelis | Richmond Times Dispatch/Richmond.com

At a gala Friday night in one of the new buildings made possible by the effort, Randolph-Macon College celebrated the completion of a fundraising campaign that defied its own projections.

The college announced it has raised $125 million in gifts and commitments, $25 million more than was the goal when the campaign was launched at the start of the recession.

The funds were raised, points out R-MC President Robert R. Lindgren, not only during the economic meltdown but also during a particularly tough time for private institutions such as Randolph-Macon.

While private colleges are seeing enrollments drop nationally, he said, R-MC’s numbers have steadily climbed. Enrollment has increased 25 percent during the past seven years and reached 1,418 this year.

The fundraising campaign called “Building Extraordinary” gets a share of the credit.

The college intentionally set out to improve its “curb appeal,” Lindgren said.

“We all rue the fact that there seems to be an arms race on facilities,” he said, but it’s become necessary to attract students.

Prospective R-MC students also tour the state’s public institutions “and the publics are building like crazy,” he said, citing a General Assembly report on the $7 billion campus construction boom at state institutions.

At R-MC, the $85 million in facilities built during the past seven years was financed through $22 million in bonds and $63 million in gifts, but no tuition dollars, according to the college.

When Lindgren shows visitors around campus, “I love to say to prospective students that not one dollar has come out of tuition,” he said.

About 40 percent of alumni made a donation during fiscal 2014-15, which he said ranks R-MC first in alumni loyalty in the state and 16th nationally among all colleges and universities.

Alumni engagement is a powerful message for prospective students, he said.

“Ours are so loyal,” he said. “I think it speak volumes about their experience here.”