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Trustees Set Goal for Catawba College Endowment Campaign

May 19, 2005

Category: Alumni


At their annual retreat, Catawba College Trustees unanimously authorized the official launch of a $35 million campaign to raise funds to bolster the College’s endowment.   This move is the latest in a string of efforts under way to reposition Catawba as a “more selective” institution.

According to Endowment Campaign Chair and Trustee Chester A. “Junie” Michael III ’70 of Mooresville, the campaign effort has been in a silent phase for the past year and has successfully raised $20,014,887 to date.   College trustees have contributed 76.5 percent of the funds raised, Michael said.

Michael recognized three Catawba Trustees who moved up to the Benefactor level (lifetime giving to the College totals or exceeds $1 million) with $1 million gifts to the endowment effort.   They include William Graham ’83 and Larry Cloninger ‘74, both of Salisbury, along with Bryan Applefield ’66 and wife Helen ’67 of Dothan, Ala.

Although Catawba’s strategic plan affirmed the institution’s historic identity as a four-year, residential college, it named nine aspirant institutions which the College is striving to emulate.   These institutions include Austin College, Birmingham Southern, Centre College, Hendrix College, Millsaps College, Presbyterian College, Rhodes College, Roanoke College, and Wofford College.

The endowments for these colleges range from $75 to $200 million. Additionally, all have high academic standards and recruit top academic students, in part because these endowments provide generous scholarships for deserving students possible without impacting the annual operating budgets.

Catawba’s current endowment stands at $31 million.   Each year, earnings from that endowment provide scholarships to academically deserving students.   Taken from the college’s annual operating budget, institutional aid helps Catawba recruit strong students and bridge the gap left by its relatively weak endowment position.

Michael serves as campaign chair, while Trustees James F. Hurley and Ralph W. Ketner, both of Salisbury, serve as honorary co-chairmen of the endowment campaign.   Trustee William Graham will serve as Rowan County campaign chair.   Other members of the campaign steering committee include trustees Darlene L. Ball ’62 of Greensboro, Barry D. Leonard ’65 of Greensboro, Samuel A. Penninger Jr. ’63 of Alpharetta, Ga., Charles G. Potts ’53 of Charlotte, Richard J. Seiwell ’67 (ex-officio) of West Chester, Pa., Ronald L. Smith of Salisbury, and Tom E. Smith ’64 (ex officio) of Salisbury.

In addition to raising funds for the endowment which will allow Catawba to provide scholarships for students, the campaign effort will raise funds to endow professorships, to maintain and upgrade specific facilities, including the Leonard Lounge of the Cannon Student Center, to establish endowment funds for academic and student programs and the College’s work study program which provides on-campus employment for students.

Catawba College Senior Vice President Tom Childress says plans are to take the campaign on the road during the next academic year, hosting receptions for alumni and friends of the College at various locations on the East Coast.   Mailings to all types of constituents will begin in January 2007, with plans to conclude the endowment campaign effort in January 2009.

Prior campaigns at Catawba have included a comprehensive capital campaign from the 1980s which raised $28 million and a five-year capital campaign concluded in 2002 which raised $59.6 million.

Endowing Campus Ministry Chair
Within the overall endowment campaign effort, another group of Catawba College supporters is at work raising funds to endow the Campus Ministry Chair.   To date, this effort has yielded more than $500,000 and created a prime example of how the needs of a specific program or initiative of the College can be addressed within the context of the broader campaign.   It is hoped that this particular effort will serve as a model for other initiatives that will endow programs or professorships.

Spearheading the fundraising effort to endow the campus ministry chair, are two couples with very close ties to Catawba – Richard J. Seiwell ’67 and wife Linda of West Chester, Pa., and James C. Dayvault ’64 and wife Marty ’63 of Lakeland, Fla.   Richard Seiwell and Marty Dayvault are the children of Catawba’s former campus minister, the late Reverend Porter Seiwell.   These couples have pledged up to a total of $250,000 to match contributions to this effort.

The honorary chairmen for this campaign are the Rev. Dr. Richard Cheek ’47 and the Rev. Dr. Billy Joe Leonard ’50, both of whom have given their careers to ministry and been very devoted to Catawba College.   Other members of the advisory committee are:   Mr. Greg Alcorn ’79, Dr. Edith Bolick ’70, the Rev. Lawrence Bolick ’70, the Rev. Dr. Ken Clapp ’70, the Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner-Daniel ’80,   Mr. James C. Dayvault ’64, Mrs. Martha Seiwell Dayvault ’63, Mr. Tom Dennard ’77, Mrs. Mary Jo Dennard ‘75 , the Rev. Kristin Gerner ’99, Mr. Wade H. Shuford, Jr. ’50, Dr. Jonathan L. Slaughter, ’00, and Dr. Martha Kirkland West, ’59.

Trustee Richard Seiwell told his peers at the retreat that thanks to the efforts of these 12 people, $254,000 had already been raised toward endowing the campus minister’s position. A number of alumni who have given to this effort have never contributed to previous fund raising efforts, he said.   Many have chosen to ‘go the extra mile’ and have given sacrificially in an effort to assure success.  

Dr. Cheek, honorary co-chair of the effort, noted, “This effort provides a wonderful opportunity for all who have benefited from Catawba’s commitment to provide for the spiritual nurture of her students to give something back that in turn will help provide for this nurturing of students for the future. Gifts to this campaign also provide a way of showing appreciation for the hard work of those who have ministered to Catawba students over the years.”

The committee members hope that everyone who has been involved in Campus Ministry in some way in the past or recognizes the importance of this dimension of the College’s service to students will make a contribution, no matter how small. One hundred and nineteen people have contributed to this effort.   The involvement of many people is an indication of widespread support for this work.

All living graduates of the College who have served in ministry and for whom contact information is available have been asked to contribute to this effort. An attempt is being made to identify persons who were active in the Student Christian Association and in other forms of campus ministry to invite their participation.   Congregations of the United Church of Christ also will be encouraged to support this campaign.

For gifts of $10,000 or more, naming opportunities are available as a part of the campaign. These gifts will be acknowledged on a plaque in the narthex of the Omwake-Dearborn Chapel.

Contributions may be sent to:   Campus Ministry, Catawba College, 2300 West Innes Street, Salisbury, N.C. 28144.   If you have questions or wish to discuss details of the campaign, please call Dr. Ken Clapp, 1-800-CATAWBA or e-mail kclapp@catawba.edu.