Babson College has achieved a record-breaking accomplishment, raising more than $400 million to date during its Centennial Campaign.
Launched in 2016 in anticipation of the College’s 100th anniversary in 2019, the ongoing Centennial Campaign is the most successful in Babson’s history and already has surpassed its initial goal of $300 million. Given the campaign’s early success, the College is now pursuing a more ambitious target of $500 million.
“We, the College, still have greater aspirations to advance our mission of educating entrepreneurial leaders to make an impact around the world,” says Edward Chiu, the Governor Craig R. Benson Endowed Senior Vice President for Advancement. “We still have more we want to do.”
The Centennial Campaign promises to have a lasting and far-reaching effect on the College, affecting practically every aspect of the campus and community, from academics and athletics, to scholarships and facilities, to the endowment and the annual operating budget.
Furthermore, the campaign’s continued success has allowed the College to move forward at a time when many colleges, because of the pandemic and the challenging state of higher education, have been forced to scale back their aspirations.
“This is an achievement the entire Babson community should be proud of,” Babson President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD says. “Such support is invaluable. In a time of uncertainty for higher education, this campaign has allowed us to invest in our vision and strategy and look to the future.”
Not Possible Without Support
To understand the wide-ranging effects that the Centennial Campaign has had on Babson, first look to students. Giving helps to alleviate whatever financial burden they’re facing. According to Meredith Stover, Babson’s director of financial aid, giving has ensured that the College can continue to meet the full financial need for incoming, first-year undergraduates. “Strong financial aid programs help us to yield students regardless of their financial ability to pay,” Stover says.
During the pandemic’s peak, Babson was able to award just over $1 million in temporary hardship funds to assist families experiencing financial difficulties. “When we needed it, we had the funding to do that,” Stover says. “It allowed students to stay on track and complete their degree on time.”
For professors, giving has funded a number of endowed and term chairs. Lauren Beitelspacher calls receiving the Ken and Nancy Major Romanzi Term Chair in Marketing an honor.
“This is an achievement the entire Babson community should be proud of. Such support is invaluable. In a time of uncertainty for higher education, this campaign has allowed us to invest in our vision and strategy and look to the future.”
Babson President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD
“As an academic, you often worry if what you are doing is making a difference or impact,” she says. “When someone invests in you through a term chair, it signals that they believe in you and your research. That kind of support and encouragement is truly unbelievable. I am extremely grateful.”
Another part of the Babson community that has particularly felt giving’s impact is athletics. “There is a direct correlation here between giving and our success as an athletics program,” says Mike Lynch, the Pamela P. and Brian M. Barefoot Athletics Director at Babson. “Giving to athletics in the past five years has more than quadrupled the previous five years, and it shows in our competitiveness.”
Giving supports expanded travel so teams can play against other national-level programs; funds assistant coaching positions; provides nutrition and mental health counseling that’s specific to a student-athlete’s needs; and helps to finance best-in-class facilities, including the sprawling Babson Recreation and Athletics Complex (BRAC), that attract and retain superior students. “We have more teams winning conference championships and competing in NCAA tournaments than ever before,” Lynch says. “That would not be possible without the support of our alumni and friends.”
BRAC isn’t the only new facility that the Centennial Campaign has helped to make possible. One can see giving’s impact every day by walking around Babson Park. From the Weissman Foundry to the Ralph Z. and Charlotte R. Sorenson Atrium to Kerry Murphy Healey Park, construction has transformed the campus in recent years.
Over at The Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership (itself launched by a $50 million gift from Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98 and the Blank Family Foundation), Scott Taylor outlines several ways giving leaves its mark. For starters, it allows professors, by reducing their teaching loads, to have more time to perform innovative research. “If we are going to stay on the cutting edge, we need the time to do that high-level work,” says Taylor, the Arthur M. Blank Endowed Chair for Values-Based Leadership.
Giving also allows colleagues to gather for top-tier conferences, so their work becomes better known in the academic world, and to fund ideas and initiatives in research (through the Faculty Research Angel Fund) and teaching (through the Teaching Innovation Fund). “All this would not have happened without the funding,” Taylor says.
Babson’s centers and institutes also have felt the power of giving. Lauri Union, the Nulsen Family Executive Director of the Bertarelli Institute for Family Entrepreneurship, remembers well when that institute launched in 2018. Much progress has been made since, with the institute creating family business case studies and developing the Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Program and other initiatives. “Four years ago, the institute had less than two years of funding, and it was really a kernel of an idea,” Union says. “I am so grateful for the many donors who have supported the launch and growth of the institute.” The institute’s recent gift from Ernesto Bertarelli ’89 will support the launch of the Global Family Entrepreneurship Network, a learning community for Babson’s entrepreneurial families.
Taken together, these stories from professors and students, from classrooms, athletics fields, and the global community, are just some of the ways that the Centennial Campaign is playing out at Babson. To raise $400 million is certainly a major accomplishment, but the campaign’s real story is what that big number means for Babson’s people.
“Campaigns are not about numbers. Campaigns are about the impact on our people,” Chiu says. “Look at our students. Look at our staff. Look at our faculty. Look at all the people who are benefiting. The campaign’s impact is everywhere.”
A Great Validation
What makes the Centennial Campaign’s success particularly impressive is the challenging times in which it has happened. “There are a lot of things not working in our favor,” Chiu says. “You have the pandemic. You have economic uncertainty.”
Despite the difficulties, the Babson community, and in particular alumni, have stood up to support the College. The alumni giving rate is now at an all-time high of more than 32 percent. “Our alumni are investing in Babson because they can see the return on that investment,” Chiu says. “It is a tribute to the community. More and more people are getting involved in the school.”
“Campaigns are not about numbers. Campaigns are about the impact on our people. Look at our students. Look at our staff. Look at our faculty. Look at all the people who are benefiting. The campaign’s impact is everywhere.”
Edward Chiu, the Governor Craig R. Benson Endowed Senior Vice President for Advancement
This strong show of support from the community wouldn’t be possible, Chiu says, without all the efforts of Babson’s faculty and staff, who make the College such a vibrant, entrepreneurial place, one that’s leaving its mark on communities around the world. “Fundraising is a team sport, and these investments are a result of the confidence people feel in what we are achieving at Babson. Unless people have confidence in what we are doing, they won’t invest,” he says. “This campaign is a pride point and validation of all the good we’re doing at Babson.”
At a time when many other colleges and universities are facing enrollment challenges and having to face tough questions about their future, the Centennial Campaign is helping to strengthen Babson’s financial footing and allowing it to dream big in the days to come.
“Babson’s next century will be marked by the investments made by so many generous gifts, which will be critical to meeting our entrepreneurial vision,” says Craig R. Benson ’77, H’03, a Babson trustee and the advancement committee chair. “We are enormously grateful to the many alumni and friends who have already answered Babson’s invitation to support this campaign.”
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