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Press Releases

Thursday, May 20, 1999

SSU Declares Victory in University System Campaign

SALISBURY, MD--Salisbury State University, a national leader in securing private support for public comprehensive universities, is the first campus in the University System of Maryland (USM) to reach its multimillion dollar fund-raising goal, passing the $13 million mark. The USM Campaign began in 1995 and still has three years to run.

"Through their generous gifts to Salisbury State University," said its President William C. Merwin, "our many friends and donors have signaled their support and confidence in our University's vision."

"In the highly competitive world of fundraising, it takes hard work, skillful planning and sheer determination simply to meet a campaign goal on time," said USM Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg. "The advancement team at Salisbury State has beaten the clock not merely by weeks or months, but amazingly by three years. That is no small feat, and I offer my congratulations and appreciation to President Merwin and his staff for this highly successful effort. Most of all, I want to thank the thousands of donors to SSU who recognized the importance of private support for public higher education."

The University's emphasis on providing an undergraduate education of national caliber is often cited by donors as critical to their investment in the University's future.

"Private giving has been the margin of difference," said Merwin, "in giving our students educational opportunities that would be unavailable solely with State funding." The University has received independent endorsement for the quality and value of its programs from such magazines as U.S. News & World Report (top 10 among regional public universities in the north), Kiplinger's (top 10 percent of all public universities in the country) and this year's edition of the Princeton Review, Best 331 Colleges (public and private in the U.S.).

Some $10 million of Campaign contributions have come in the form of gifts and pledges of $200,000 or more. They range from an anonymous gift of $3.4 million for student scholarships to a $1 million pledge from aviation pioneer, businessman and philanthropist Richard Henson for science equipment. Alumnus and Annapolis-based entrepreneur Mike Scarborough gave $500,000 to build a Leadership Center, well-known Cambridge attorney Ed Nabb endowed the Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture with a $500,000 gift and last week local arts patron Bobbi Biron pledged $500,000 to endow the University's Theatre Program.

"Major gifts are a vital part of the success of any successful Campaign," said SSU Vice President of University Advancement Martin Williams, "but all contributions are important because they represent a groundswell of commitment to the University's direction and values. Annual Fund giving, mostly by alumni in the $100 range, has gone up dramatically in the past few years, a development that is especially reassuring to the University community as we implement the components of our Strategic Plan."

The University System of Maryland Campaign runs from 1995-2002 and has an overall goal of $700 million. SSU's original goal was $11 million but upon his arrival in 1996, President Merwin boosted the goal to $13 million. Sam Seidel, local businessman, civic leader and long-time benefactor of SSU, and Nabb, are co-chairs of SSUs Campaign 2002, Our Promise of Excellence.

"Salisbury State University has a great fund-raising tradition," said Merwin. "All four of our schools are endowed with multi-million gifts, unique in Maryland and a rarity nationally.

"Because of that historic support," said Merwin, "we felt confident in raising the original goal established for us at the System level. Thanks to the enormous outpouring of support from our friends, we eclipsed the elevated standard at a record pace. This is a signal accomplishment not only for the immediate Salisbury State University community, but for our legion of friends and supporters throughout the state, the region and the nation."

"Education does interest people in our area," said Seidel. "My wife Lynn and I endowed the School of Education and Professional Studies because we could see what a difference it would make. We need good teachers--they provide the training for successful lawyers, doctors, architects, store owners and sales people."

Deborah Abbott, chair of the SSU Foundation and vice president of Peninsula Bank, said, "It is such a pleasure to be associated with a success story like Salisbury State University. The caliber of students, faculty and staff at SSU is first rate, and so many of us are inspired by its vision for the future and want to continue to be a part of its future successes."

The University's fund-raising officials plan to build on that momentum.

"We are not finished campaigning," said Merwin. "During the summer I will meet with campus groups to determine how high we want to raise the fund-raising bar. And while all of our Campaign efforts thus far have been in concert with our Strategic Plan, particular emphasis in the coming years will be placed on student scholarships, endowed faculty chairs and new learning technologies.

"While today we savor the University's recent accomplishments and its emergence as a nationally eminent regional university," said Merwin, "tomorrow we press on with an ambitious agenda."

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