April 18, 2018

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

John Crawford, Vice President for University Advancement and Chief Executive Officer of the VSU Foundation Inc.

VSU Surpasses Campaign Goal Ahead of Schedule, Continues Fundraising Efforts

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University President Richard A. Carvajal announced today that VSU’s first comprehensive capital campaign, Invest. Ignite. Inspire: The Campaign for Valdosta State University, has surpassed its goal of $53,250,000 more than 14 months ahead of schedule. 

Gifts and pledges to the campaign, which started on July 1, 2014, currently total $53,304,303. More than 13,000 individual donors have made 25,007 gifts to the campaign so far. 

The five-year campaign will end on June 30, 2019.

“When this campaign was launched, there were several people who wondered if Valdosta State University could raise this amount of money,” said Carvajal. “Thanks to our campaign leadership and the leadership of the Valdosta State University Foundation Board of Trustees, we have proven that VSU can raise significant money.“

More than half of the funds committed to the campaign have been earmarked for student scholarships, noted John D. Crawford, vice president for University Advancement and chief executive officer of the Valdosta State University Foundation.

“When we began to plan for the campaign, we knew that student support would be the foundation,” he said. “Providing scholarship support to young people who otherwise might not be able to afford college is a special thing and our alumni and friends have embraced our students through their contributions.”

Scholarship donations have made an immediate impact on VSU students, as more than $1.1 million in scholarship support was awarded to 608 VSU students during the 2017-2018 academic year. That is double the amount and number of scholarships awarded just five years ago.

Invest. Ignite. Inspire: The Campaign for Valdosta State University is co-chaired by Jerry Jennett, chief executive officer of Georgia Gulf Sulfur Corporation; David Ratcliffe, former chairman and chief executive officer of Southern Company; Thomas Wiley, chief executive officer of State Bank & Trust Company and State Bank Financial Corporation; and Laura Lynn Miller, founder of Eldercare, which later became Southern Home Care Services, and co-founder of Coastal Home Care. Ratcliffe, Wiley, and Miller are Valdosta State graduates. Jennett has been affiliated with the university since moving to Valdosta in 1973 and currently serves as chairman of the Valdosta State University Foundation.

“We simply could not have done this without our foundation’s vision to launch a campaign, and we certainly could not have done it without the instant credibility that came when our four co-chairs loaned their names, reputations, and talents to the campaign,” Carvajal said.

Invest. Ignite. Inspire: The Campaign for Valdosta State University was launched with an original goal of $43,250,000; however, early success led the VSU Foundation Board of Trustees to raise the goal in October 2014 by $10 million.

Carvajal pointed out that while Invest. Ignite. Inspire: The Campaign for Valdosta State University is the first major comprehensive fundraising effort for VSU, the momentum created by the campaign is not surprising.

“Our alumni and friends, the business community, and the private foundation community have all demonstrated their faith in VSU’s mission by making large investments in our university,” he shared. “We are grateful for their confidence, and we are mindful that all of us at VSU have an obligation to be outstanding stewards of their dollars. We are committed to honoring their faith in us by continuing to provide a world-class educational experience and high-impact outreach to the communities that we serve.”

While the campaign goal has been met, Crawford stressed that the campaign will not conclude until June 30, 2019.

“Hitting the goal more than a year in advance of the campaign end date gives us a great opportunity to focus on those campaign projects that are lagging behind our success in raising scholarship dollars,” he explained.

Crawford noted that support for faculty initiatives and athletics will remain top priorities for the remainder of the campaign.

“We would very much like to see an increase in the number of endowed faculty chairs and professorships,” he said. “Endowments allow our academic leaders to attract highly qualified faculty and assist current faculty with research and community outreach.

“Of course, Valdosta is Titletown and the Blazers are very much a part of the championship tradition. In order to remain competitive at the national level, we are going to have to continue to work very hard with our donors to increase contributions to support athletic scholarships.”

The VSU Foundation engaged the J.F. Smith Group to conduct the campaign feasibility study and offer strategic support during the first 24 months of the five-year campaign.

Contact John Crawford at (229) 333-5939 or jdcrawford@valdosta.edu to learn more.

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