Trustees launch new “Our Might” initiative


Lynda Shenkman

PARENTS, ALUMNI, AND TRUSTEES gathered at the gala to auction and bid on various items, including Taylor Swift tickets, dinner with Michael Douglas, and many more. Proceeds from the event will be going to the new “Our Might” initiative, which will seek to enhance the student experience through various improvements.

Lily Zuckerman, Features Editor

At the spring gala on April 20, the Board of Trustees announced the “Our Might” campaign that has raised $90,251,601 out of their goal of $100 million since 2017. Often fundraising like this, capital campaigns have an initial “silent” period where it is not public yet but still raising money. Oftentimes, the campaign becomes public when it has raised at least 70% of its goal (90% in Masters case) to show what has been done and donations for the final push. It incentivizes people to join the campaign, while being less daunting. The donations will be used to invest in three areas of Masters to improve the Masters student experience: Facilities and campus enhancements ($68 million), current Programs and operations ($24 million), and financial stability ($18.5 million). 

Associate Head for Finance and Operations Andy Schenider spoke on the importance of having a strategic plan that determines where donations will go. He said, “If somebody’s going to write a really big check to the school, they have to believe that Ms. Danforth is somebody who can take that and use it toward something great to make the school a better place. So that’s why it’s so important to have a great head of school and somebody who’s visionary because it means that donors are really confident that if they are going to make a donation that it’s going to make the school stronger.” 

The campaign has already paid for past advancement projects: the Ford, McCormack and Cole dorm updates (2018), the Strong and Thompson dorm renovations (2019), and the 21st century library renovations in Masters Hall and the digital resource center (2020). Future projects using the campaign donations include the current construction of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (IEC), Strayer Hall renovations, and building a bigger Claudia Boettcher Theatre. 

According to Schneider, of the $90 million that was raised, $19 million has been contributed to the current $71 million endowment. “Some of this is pledged (i.e. “promised” by a donor but paid to the school over several years, so the cash has not yet all been received). Donors paying pledges over several years is common in capital campaigns,” Schneider said. He continued, “The ~$20 million that we don’t “spend” will be added to the school’s endowment, where it will be invested. The interest earned on those funds will be used to help balance our budget each year (as we discussed this morning, the larger the endowment, the less we need to rely on tuition to fund our day-to-day operations). But technically, the $20 million never gets “spent.” Only the accumulated interest on that $20 million gets spent,” Schneider said. 

Chair of the Board of Trustees Edith Chapin is serving her 22nd year as a board member and sixth year as a Chair, and she will be stepping down this June. She said, “Community, that’s the essence of where we are. We are a community and we need a place to be a community to convene and do what we do. And we want to ensure that that’s possible for the future so that’s how it all comes together.”