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ON DECEMBER 31, 2004, the grandest, most ambitious endeavor undertaken by Iona officially came to a close. Vision into Reality: The Campaign for Iona College (VIR) was an unqualified success, having raised in excess of $82 million in gifts and pledges, $25 million more than originally targeted. Through VIR, the Iona community came together for an unprecedented manifestation of faith and pride in the College.
Success didn’t come overnight—VIR was years in the making. “In 1995, when the first Presidential Strategic Plan was being crafted, it became evident that we didn’t have the money to do what we wanted in terms of facilities, admissions and faculty goals, among others,” recalled Brother Liguori. “The Campaign was born that day.”
The quiet phase of Vision into Reality was launched in 1997, with the goal of raising $55 million dollars—a daunting prospect for most colleges. However,when asked for their support, prominent alumni proved their willingness to give. “The very significant gifts of Joseph ’59, ’83H and JoAnn ’98H Murphy, Robert V. LaPenta ’67, ’00H, and Jim ’69, ’01H and Anne Marie Hynes set the tone for the Campaign,” Br. Liguori said. “Those, along with several gifts of $1 million, were a great way to start.” The Board of Trustees, of which 90 percent are alumni, was deeply vested in the Campaign’s success. They led by example, and gave generously. “I don’t think you can overestimate the Board’s commitment to this Campaign,” Br. Liguori said. By the time the public phase of VIR began in 2000, more than $34.1 million had been pledged.
Over the next four years, by letter, phone call or personal visit, every graduate was asked to participate in the Campaign. The response was overwhelmingly positive. “Alumni were ready to support Iona, they just needed to be asked,” said Rich Petriccione, ’81, ’95MS, vice president for Advancement and External Affairs. “They saw that our Iona story, the students past and present, and our mission add up to a worthwhile investment.”
Iona employees also gave; 77 percent threw their weight behind the Campaign. “I was delighted by the tremendous involvement of the people who work here,” said Br. Liguori.
Transformations to campus during VIR include construction of the Iona College Arts Center, the renovation of Cornelia Hall and the Mulcahy Campus Events Center gymnasium and the addition of two new residence halls. Summer 2005 will see the opening of the Robert V. LaPenta ’67, ’00H Student Union followed in winter 2006 by the Hynes Athletics Center. Another priority is the expansion and renovation of Ryan Library. Brother Liguori says the renovation of this facility will dramatically change the entrance and look to the College on North Avenue.Additional funds are needed for this work and a “minicampaign” will soon be underway.
Future plans also include the conversion of Spellman Hall into a Faculty Center. These planned campus improvements reflect the maturing of Iona as an institution— they represent changes in the College that will service the student body, while remaining true to its philosophical roots as a private, coeducational institution of learning based in the traditions and values of American Catholic higher education. The Campaign spells a coming-of-age for Iona. “Ten years ago, if someone had said that we had just raised $82 million, people wouldn’t have believed it. But the Campaign has shown that Iona alumni have the ability and propensity to give to their alma mater,” Br. Liguori commented. “Success breeds success. Now that Iona has raised its standards and received numerous accreditations, alumni have come forward and said, ‘this is the kind of institution we want to support.’” Trustee Don Walsh ’66 pointed out, “Up until the Campaign began, Iona had always been considered a ‘young college’ when compared to other institutions. Now we’ve taken a giant step becoming more established, much like an adolescent reaches adulthood.”
In January 2005, at the famed Rainbow Room in NYC, Brother Liguori announced the grand total raised by the campaign: $82,637,427. To the delighted cheers of the audience, Br. Liguori pointed out, “Ladies and gentlemen, you’re clapping for yourselves!” As the number flashed in lights above the band, he continued, “In my nearly 40 years of ministry, with 30 years spent as an administrator, I can honestly say that no period of my life has been more exciting and fulfilling…What this Campaign has done to transform our alma mater is incalculable.”
Thanks to the many alumni and friends of the College
who contributed to VIR and made it a resonating success!