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Message from President Jeffrey Herbst
President Herbst chats with students at a reception in the Hall of Presidents. (photo by Andrew Daddio)
With approximately 16 months left in the Passion for the Climb campaign, we have already exceeded our goal of raising $87.5 million for financial aid. Yet, in typical Colgate spirit, we have decided to step up our ambitions — by raising an additional $40 million
so that more students of limited means can receive one of the best educations in America.
I believe that raising more funds for financial aid is Colgate’s most important strategic goal. Today, we are dependent on a large percentage (much greater than many of our peer schools) of students paying full tuition at a time when our society has lost considerable wealth. That is a significant risk to the university. We simply must be able to diversify our admissions pipeline in order to draw from a larger proportion of American society.
At the moment, we lose on the proverbial “cutting room floor” outstanding students who want to come to Colgate but whom we cannot afford because of our limited financial aid resources. These are very high quality, well-prepared students who would add to the vitality and diversity of our campus. Vice President and Dean of Admission Gary Ross ’77 has shared with me some examples of the students we currently cannot admit. We have changed their names and removed identifying information, but I think that you will find their stories compelling:
“Scott” (West Coast)
3.78 GPA/1490 SAT testing. (The SAT scores shown for each example are the combined critical reading and math score.) In 1996, Scott was in a car accident with his grandparents, parents, and sister. He was the only survivor. Since age 4, he has been raised by his aunt and uncle. He wrote his personal statement on being his family’s ‘anchor’ after their death. Scott is also an Eagle Scout and student representative to the school board. Teachers say Scott has “limitless potential.”
3.83/1530. Patricia earned top praise from a teacher as “one of the brightest and most articulate students I have encountered in 32 years.” She is co-editor of her school’s literary magazine and is described as a leader in the classroom. Her essay speaks to her life as a child being raised by parents who come from very different places.
3.84/1460. Lisa is legally blind and wrote a compelling essay about this challenge. Her mother grew up on an island in the Pacific, so this perspective has helped shape her childhood. She is the captain of the field hockey and ski teams, vice president of student government, and treasurer of the National Honor Society. Her teachers speak to her compassion toward others and her modesty in light of her achievements.
4.05/1380. Jane ranks in the top 2 percent of her class. Teachers describe her as the most incredible ever taught at the school. They also say she “exemplifies excellence” in the classroom. She serves as captain of the ice hockey and soccer teams and made the all-state team for soccer. When her coach suffered a debilitating stroke, she and her teammates rallied the community and raised more than $15,000.
Our eventual goal is to make Colgate need blind, so that we can admit the very best students irrespective of family means. It will take time and considerable financial resources to meet that goal; however, along the way, every single student we are able to provide with assistance is a victory.
Since its inception, the Passion for the Climb campaign has been a great success. Despite the daunting economic challenges of the last few years — when many nonprofit organizations saw substantial declines in the gifts they received — our campaign remains ahead of projections. Everyone at the university is extremely appreciative of the extraordinary commitment Colgate alumni have shown, especially in these difficult times.
As I travel around the country, I am grateful for the enthusiasm with which Colgate’s supporters have seized on our goal for financial aid. I look forward to working with you to ensure that no student who wants to come to Colgate is hindered by a lack of family resources — a great goal for a great university.