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Meredith OKs drive – Focus on endowment

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By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — One year into the term of its new president, Meredith College in Raleigh is embarking on a capital campaign to raise nearly $33.6 million.

The drive, approved Nov. 13 by trustees of the women’s school, would raise money over five years, mainly for endowment, for needs ranging from scholarships and programs to equipment, renovations and faculty and staff development.

The campaign goal is the most ambitious ever for the school, which raised a record-high $12.8 million in the early 1990s, and is the first big initiative of Maureen Hartford, who last year succeeded John Weems as Meredith’s president.

The campaign will be a challenge because raising money for a women’s school typically is tough, says Hartford, the first women to serve as president in the 101-year history of Meredith, the largest private college for women in the Southeast.

Allison Crouch, Meredith’s director of capital campaign, says an underlying goal of the fundraising effort will be to confront that challenge by raising awareness about the school and laying the groundwork for future campaigns.

Atlanta consultant Alexander Haas Martin & Partners conducted a feasibility study and concluded that Meredith could raise $33.5 million, says Crouch, who joined Meredith earlier this year after working for Charlotte fundraising consultant First Counsel.

 “It’s our chance over the next five years to let everybody and anybody know who we are and what we’re doing,” she says. “This is our chance for recognition.”

The campaign, which will raise money quietly for a year or two before beginning its public drive, aims to boost the school’s $55.2 million endowment to about $83 million, and will add $25,000 a year to the annual fund, which now raises $500,000 a year.

Campaign funds will support facilities improvements and endowment for faculty chairs; the school of business; faculty and staff development; scholarships; service-leadership programs to promote volunteerism and community service; science equipment; and new centers for women in the arts, and women in technology.

Former Glaxo CEO Charles Sanders is a co-chair of the campaign, which has not named the other co-chair.

In its last campaign and biggest so far, a three-year drive that ended in 1992, Meredith exceeded its $10.6 million goal by $2.2 million.

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