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SUNY Potsdam's Take the Lead Campaign Raises $33.5 Million

Campaign Student Group
SUNY Potsdam students hold hand-drawn signs thanking donors to the Take the Lead Campaign for raising more than $33 million.

The State University of New York at Potsdam has yet another reason to celebrate in its bicentennial year, thanks to the successful conclusion of Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam.

SUNY Potsdam’s Take the Lead Campaign has now raised $33.5 million to support scholarships and programs at the College, surpassing its final goal by $1.5 million.

“The terrific success of SUNY Potsdam’s Take the Lead Campaign is a testament to the College’s educational excellence and the lifelong pride that it instills in its students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Congratulations to all those involved in carrying out the campaign, and thank you to those who contributed to helping SUNY Potsdam meet and exceed its fundraising goal.”

Since going public in 2013, the campaign has continued to break records. It exceeded the original goal of $27 million just a year after launching, prompting the College to increase the goal to $32 million for the final phase, called the Third Century Challenge.

As of June 30, 2016, the Take the Lead Campaign had raised $33.5 million, from nearly 14,000 donors. During the 2015-16 fiscal year, SUNY Potsdam brought in an impressive $4.3 million to complete the campaign.

SUNY Potsdam plans to celebrate the campaign’s success with a culminating celebration on Sept. 30, as the College marks its entry into the institution’s third century of excellence.

Overall, the Take the Lead Campaign garnered 186 Leadership Donors (giving $20,000 or more), of whom 57 were named to the Chancellor’s Circle (recognizing donors who gave $100,000 or more). The College also received eight gifts in excess of $1 million during the campaign.

“There’s a reason that we are historic in fundraising. There’s something different about this place, and there’s something different about SUNY Potsdam alumni. As an alumna, I am so proud of my school, but I’m even more proud of all the people that have graduated from this place and continued to sustain it,” said Campaign Honorary Co-Chair Stephanie Blythe ’92, a Metropolitan Opera star. “This university never stops striving to be better than it was the day before. And that is why we were able to raise so much money.”

The strategic priorities of the Take the Lead Campaign were academic excellence, scholarships, student experiences, the arts and the Annual Fund for Potsdam. The College exceeded its fundraising goals for all of these categories, including the establishment of 96 new endowed scholarships and the creation of 48 additional program endowments.

Through the Take the Lead Campaign, SUNY Potsdam raised:

  • $8.4 million for scholarships,
  • $5.2 million for transformational student experiences,
  • $11.3 million for academic excellence, and
  • $8.1 million for the Annual Fund for Potsdam.

In addition, 38 percent of all gifts also supported the arts.

The final year of the campaign also led to the dedication of several new physical spaces on campus, including:

  • the Wagner Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Research Greenhouse, made possible through the generosity of Robert ’75 and Wendy Wagner;
  • the Lynne Boles ’74 and John Priest Green Room in the Performing Arts Center, and
  • the grand opening of the Center for Applied Learning, which was made possible with a gift from Richard and Joy Dorf ’58, who established the Joy (MacDonald) ’58 and Richard Dorf Endowed Director for Applied Learning position.

Despite having the smallest enrollment of all 13 comprehensive colleges within SUNY, the Potsdam campus boasts some of the most loyal and generous graduates—ranking third overall for alumni participation in giving. SUNY Potsdam also ranks third among SUNY comprehensive colleges for dollars raised per student, and fourth in the total dollar amount of alumni giving.

According to the most recent Voluntary Support of Education statistics, SUNY Potsdam ranks No. 19 in the nation among public master’s-granting institutions for the percentage of alumni who give to their alma mater.

The acclaimed bestselling novelist T.C. Boyle ’68 served as Campaign Honorary Co-Chair along with Blythe. Michael Galane ’74, a senior director for the Hewlett-Packard Company, and famed lyric soprano Lisa Vroman ’79 both served as National Chairs.

The rest of the Campaign Steering Committee included: Lynne Boles ’74, William Flynn ’70, Deborah Diefendorf Hind ’75, Gary Hind ’77, Janice Rowlands Johnson ’56, Christine Meda ’70 and J. Richard Munro.

Established in 1968, the Potsdam College Foundation is a non-profit corporation dedicated to stewarding the continued growth of private giving in support of SUNY Potsdam. Its mission is to ensure a quality future for the College and its people, by establishing endowments to support scholarships and programs to ensure campus needs are met.

To find out more about Take the Lead: The Campaign for Potsdam, visit

Media contact:

Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, Office of Public Affairs,
(315) 267-2918