back to news July 16, 2019

Excellence in Advancement

Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, interim executive dean and vice provost, and Elizabeth S. Burns, chief advancement officer, sent the following message to Arts and Sciences faculty and staff.

The reach and impact of the College of Arts and Sciences is extraordinary. We are home to almost 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students and touch virtually every student at Ohio State at some point in their academic journeys. This impact is the result of the breadth and excellence of our academic offerings in addition to our vast and energetic alumni and donor base — including more than 206,000 living alumni (nearly 40 percent of all Ohio State alumni) and countless friends and stakeholders. It is amazing to discover that, on average, the college benefits from more than 11,000 unique donor gifts and thousands of volunteer hours each fiscal year.
Much of this success would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our Arts and Sciences Advancement team. This group of enthusiastic staff partners with our outstanding faculty and students to increase engagement, awareness and support of Ohio State’s stakeholders through personal contacts, meaningful events and impactful communications. As a result of all of these efforts, the College of Arts and Sciences has enjoyed consistent growth over the last four years. In FY18, the college set a new record by raising $68.07 million on an ambitious $40 million goal. As we approach the public launch of Ohio State’s next campaign this October, we are preparing for a larger, and more purposeful, impact than ever before.
Supporting the Arts and Sciences
There is no doubt that our alumni and friends are loyal and passionate, clearly reflected in the historic generosity the college has enjoyed. All of us are profoundly grateful for this support, as we can witness firsthand the transformative power of such gifts to impact the excellence of the college as well as access and affordability of an Ohio State education for our students. For example, Arts and Sciences has raised more than $28 million in new gifts and commitments for student support in the quiet phase of our current campaign, which is yet to have its public launch.

Looking at our facilities, plans for the Arts District and other capital improvements are also moving full steam ahead. At its May meeting, the Board of Trustees granted approval for increasing professional services and entering into construction contracts for the district, which will boast new homes for the School of Music, Department of Theatre and Moving-Image Production major, which originated in the Film Studies Program. Commitments from alumni and friends who have supported these efforts have been pivotal in finalizing the plans for reshaping the physical footprint of the Columbus campus.
An Arts and Sciences priority for the campaign is faculty excellence. The college currently houses 23 endowed chairs and 24 endowed professorships (view breakdown by department). These endowed positions, created via major gifts of $1 million and beyond, are hallmarks of academic excellence across higher education. Endowed faculty lines provide Ohio State with added flexibility to recruit and retain the very best in our fields, providing the faculty member with well-deserved accolades along with fiscal flexibility to pursue cutting-edge ideas that might not otherwise be possible under traditional funding models. Looking ahead to the next campaign, we have set an ambitious goal of doubling the number of these endowed positions across the college.
Endowed funds overall are essential to the vitality and financial security of our departments and centers, as they can provide permanent support for faculty, graduate students, undergraduate research, scholarships, programs, operations and more. Many departments have excelled at building their endowments over time, including history (principal balance of $15.3 million), chemistry and biochemistry ($14.7 million) and psychology ($11.3 million). As momentum builds for the next campaign, we hope loyal alumni and friends will make even more of these opportunities possible, allowing us to pursue bigger dreams.
Cultivating passion and purpose
In today’s philanthropic climate, donors are well informed about the incredible potential their support can have and the difference it can make in the lives of our students, faculty, staff and the college as a whole. We have been fortunate to have been involved in many transformative gifts in the past year and, as examples, share information about three of them with you. 
Joseph V. Denney Designated Professorship in English
This gift from two anonymous champions of the humanities provided a creative and immediate way to recognize a high-performing faculty member. The Denney Professorship, named for beloved English professor Joseph Denney, is currently being held for a five-year term by Jared Gardner, professor and director of the Film and Popular Culture Studies program. This designated professorship — the first of its kind in the college — is a term position that provides an innovative avenue to recognize and reward talented faculty in non-traditional or cross-disciplinary fields of study.
The Bunny C. Clark Student Support Fund 
This student support fund was established by Robert Mercer and the Mercer Family Foundation to honor the memory of Mercer’s longtime mentor and beloved former physics faculty member, Professor Bunny Clark. The gift illustrates excellent collaboration between advancement and faculty, as Professor Robert Perry, physics faculty member and vice chair, spearheaded communication with the Mercer family and partnered with the Arts and Sciences Advancement team to provide the donors with a suitable framework in which to honor Dr. Clark.

Eric Byron Fix Monda Professorship 
This professorship was established with a gift from Keith and Linda Monda, longtime supporters of Ohio State. In addition to their philanthropic support, Keith, a two-time alumnus, also serves on the University Foundation Board and the Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Committee. This new gift will create an endowed professorship in economics and behavioral finance, shared jointly between two of the Mondas’ Ohio State interests: the College of Arts and Sciences and the Fisher College of Business.

Creating a meaningful donor experience

Our stewardship team is responsible for much more than just thanking our donors. In addition to celebrating the above-mentioned new gift commitments, our stewardship team, in partnership with so many of you across the college, has ensured that those 11,000+ donors know that their giving truly makes a difference. Stewardship can take many forms and drives continued fundraising to the College of Arts and Sciences — when donors feel appreciated and confident that they have made a clear and meaningful impact, they are more likely to consider repeating and possibly increasing their support. 
It is not just donors that must be stewarded and managed — the College of Arts and Sciences has approximately 1,500 donor-supported funds with available cash resources across all departments and centers. Roughly 1,000 of these funds reflect the generosity of generations that came before us, and 500 funds are connected to active donors who enjoy a connection to the college through personalized updates on the fund’s impact on the college’s community of scholars. 

Alumni engagement
We have a robust engagement team that is responsible for engaging our network of alumni and volunteers. Our Dean’s Advisory Committee continues to grow and evolve in order to best support the needs of the college and the executive dean, and our Alumni Society Board recently achieved Outstanding Alumni Society status for the fifth consecutive year — along with Program of the Year honors from the Ohio State Alumni Association for the Student Ambassador Program
With the engagement team’s guidance, many of our departments have formed or are in the process of building their own committees to support departmental priorities. These enthusiastic and engaged volunteers have been creating and funding initiatives like the Girls Exploring Math summer camp (supported by the Department of Mathematics Advisory Committee), providing matching dollars to support this year’s Day of Giving focus on The Lantern (School of Communication Advancement Committee), or partnering with the college to mentor students through their career journeys.
As we look ahead to the campaign launch this fall, the university’s strategic plan declares that what Ohio State does matters — and in today’s complex and ever-evolving global landscape, our alumni and donors attest that an Arts and Sciences education matters now more than ever. We are working to build an intellectual community within and across departments that no one wants to leave. We will leverage our diversity, tout our inclusiveness and celebrate our excellence because our faculty, staff and students are generating knowledge that changes the world — with the steadfast support of alumni and friends around the globe. We hope you will continue to partner with us as we work toward a better future for all.