CLARKSVILLE, Ark. ---Boosted by major gifts for student housing and academic facilities, along with increasing broad-based support for scholarships, University of the Ozarks has achieved its five-year, $55 million campaign goal in just two years, school officials announced this week.
The success of the college’s campaign "To Preserve the Pride, To Keep the Promise" has led the university’s Board of Trustees to extend the campaign goal to $60 million. Launched Oct. 27, 1998 with the announcement of a $39.5 million challenge gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, the $55 million goal was easily the highest in the Presbyterian-related school’s 166-year history. Major gifts already committed to the campaign increased and endowed faculty salaries; created new teaching positions; funded a new teacher education and communications building; built new residence halls and renovated existing residence halls; launched a freshman mentor’s program; initiated a low-interest student loan fund; and supported programs to build enrollment. Over the first two years of the campaign, Ozarks’ endowment increased from $30 million to $74 million, one of the largest percentage endowment increases in the nation. Enrollment at the private, four-year liberal arts school jumped 17 percent over the same period. Ozarks is ranked in the top tier of Southern Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Commenting on the campaign’s success, university President Dr. Rick Niece said, "Ozarks is truly blessed with generous, caring friends and alumni who commit themselves in every way to our mission. When we launched this campaign, our goals were to improve the quality of the educational experience our students receive and to move Ozarks to the upper echelon of church-related liberal arts schools. We have done both and pledge to our students, alumni and friends to do even more." While major gifts are vital to the campaign, broad-based support through smaller gifts is also a key to the campaign’s rapid success, according to Steve Edmisten, vice president for advancement. "Operational support for institutions often suffers in the face of large capital campaigns," Edmisten said. "But Ozarks has escaped this phenomenon thanks to the thousands of donors who continue to support scholarships and the day-to-day operations of the university. This broad support has insured that our campaign is truly a tide that raises all boats." Referring to the board’s decision to extend the campaign goal, Edmisten said that the campaign’s rapid success has not allowed many supporters the opportunity to be a part of it. "When Ozarks is successful we want everyone who wishes to share in our success to have the chance to take part," he said. "The Pride and Promise Campaign has given Ozarks powerful momentum for strategic growth and we seek to maintain that energy for our current and future students." The campaign will still close on its original deadline of October 26, 2003.