School celebrates fundraising campaign that exceeds goal10 min read
Ann Arbor, Mich., Nov. 8, 2018 —The wide-reaching impact of an impressive fundraising campaign that exceeded its goal of $35 million was the focus of a School of Dentistry celebration on Nov. 2.
Alumni and friends of the school who made gifts to the Victors for Dentistry campaign joined students, faculty and staff to applaud the teamwork that raised more than $42 million over the last eight years. The funds will support student scholarships, a major building renovation and expansion, faculty endowments, research initiatives and many other areas of the school.
The announced total — $42,707,379 — is expected to increase as the last gifts arrive before the campaign officially closes on Dec. 31.
The dentistry campaign is part of the University of Michigan Victors for Michigan campaign, which raised more than $5 billion, a record for public university campaigns. The university marked its accomplishment with a celebration on the same day of the dental school’s event. As the campaigns for dentistry and other campus units wind down by year’s end, the final numbers for each, and for the university collectively, will grow even higher.
Speaking to about 75 donors and other guests who attended the dentistry celebration, Dr. William Lawler, representing the campaign committee, said the $35 million goal was “a daunting figure” at first. Over time, however, he said he was impressed by the generosity of alumni and friends of the school who worked together and surpassed the goal. He noted that the campaign planning began with the previous dean, Peter Polverini, and was championed to its conclusion by the current dean, Laurie McCauley. Lawler said countless hours were contributed by staff, faculty, students and alumni volunteers who developed fundraising programs, attended campaign events and performed many other tasks. “Virtually everybody has had a hand in the wonderful success of this campaign,” he said. “This commitment will help to define the school for the next 50 years. It’s truly a great accomplishment.”
Other members of the campaign committee, all of whom are alumni of the school, are Sheree Duff, Janis Duski, Timothy Gietzen, Raymond Gist, Allan Jacobs, Jed Jacobson, G. Peter Kelly, William Lawler, Wayne Olsen, Reggie Vanderveen, Jay Werschky and Donald Wurtzel.
Dean Laurie McCauley said statistics from the campaign tell a story of commitment and generosity. About 4,000 donors gave over 12,000 gifts; nearly 100 first-time donors gave more than $15,000 each; 43 new student scholarships were created, including one honoring faculty members Don and Ron Heys that has drawn more than 450 donors; five new endowed professorships were established; planned gifts totaled about $13 million; and nearly $19 million went into the school’s endowment. “These gifts substantiate and support our future,” McCauley said. “These are gifts that will go on giving for years and years and years.”
An example of how gifts generate important new initiatives was described by Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Dr. Walter H. Swartz Professor of Integrated Special Care Dentistry. Patients with special healthcare needs are now being treated at the school’s new Delta Dental Integrated Special Care Clinic, made possible with a $2 million gift from the Delta Dental Foundation. It’s located at the Community Dental Center, the non-profit clinic that the dental school operates in downtown Ann Arbor, and will eventually move to the main dental school building as part of the major renovation now underway. Specialized equipment and treatment plans will improve the health care of patients with a wide variety of conditions, such as cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, dementia, traumatic brain injury, progressive neurologic disorders, and disabilities that limit mobility, vision or hearing.
Murdoch-Kinch’s endowed professorship in integrated special care was made possible with a gift from Tim and Laurie Wadhams in honor of Laurie’s late father, Walter Swartz, a longtime professor of prosthodontics at the school. In addition to coordinating development of the new clinic, Murdoch-Kinch also is working with faculty and students to offer a clinical elective course in which students are trained in the best practices for providing care for patients with special needs. That requires the dental team to be skilled at communicating and collaborating with many other health care professionals — from disciplines such as social work, pharmacy and medicine — because of the complex and interrelated needs of the patient.
Murdoch-Kinch said the two gifts, the new clinic and expanded training for dental students illustrate how donors and the school can work closely to improve health care and dental education in significant ways that have a lasting impact. She said the ongoing collaboration can be summarized with a few words: “Vision. Commitment. Love. Compassion. Generosity. Legacy. We could not do this without you,” she told the donors in attendance.
In an acknowledgment of the many ways students benefit from the generosity of donors, five students who have received scholarships thanked those who contributed to the campaign. Sharing their personal stories of how financial aid has helped them as they have worked toward their degrees were Amanda Robertson, a fourth-year DDS student who received a Mette Foundation Scholarship; Dale Flanagin II, a fourth-year DDS student who received a David L. and Janet Miller Endowed Scholarship; Leslie French, a fourth-year Dental Hygiene student who received the Dorothy Hard and Susan Welke Endowed Scholarship; Rahul Srivastava, a third-year DDS student who received financial support for a Global Initiatives trip from Drs. Margo and Douglas Woll; and Carl Buchanon II, a fourth-year DDS student who received the Lee W. Jones Scholarship.
Renée Duff, Assistant Dean for Student Services, said she constantly encounters the positive effects of financial aid among students in her daily interactions with them. “I am acutely aware of the constant weight most of them carry related to the burden of student debt,” she said. “Your contributions help lessen that load for many and allow them to focus their energy on success in our rigorous classrooms and patient care clinics. Through your generous giving you have been exemplars to our graduates, who are, in turn, able to give back as a symbol of their gratitude and their commitment to future student success.”
Flanagin’s remarks were typical of his fellow students as he described how the financial aid has allowed him to focus more on his coursework and less on money and debt. One of four siblings, he said he has held jobs since he was 10-years-old, in part because of his family’s financial hardship that is tied to health issues for his father and a brother. Without significant family financial support, and with little time available to work during dental school, Flanagin is grateful for the help he has received. “This scholarship has allowed me to continue this endeavor of mine despite the rigorous workload,” he said. As he heads toward graduation in the spring, he is considering opportunities to provide dental care to the underserved in a Federally Qualified Health Center. He says his time at the dental school has allowed him to focus on his dream of helping others. “Along with my family and friends, I have you -– another family -– to thank for a truly unforgettable life experience here at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry,” he said.
Jeff Freshcorn, Director of Development and Campaign Director in the Office of Alumni Relations and Development, noted that it has been more than 10 years since campaign planning began so there is a very long list of people to thank. He praised the collaboration and unfailing graciousness of the many people who were asked by the development office to help with the project, year after year. Freshcorn and Carrie Towns, Assistant Director of Development, listed past and present deans, administrators, administrative assistants, students and faculty. Individuals, companies and foundations were among the generous benefactors. The campaign would not have succeeded without the commitment of Dean Laurie McCauley and members of the campaign committee, Freshcorn said. Other members of the development office that worked on the campaign are Ashton Steele, Associate Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations; Thalia Colliau, Annual Giving Officer; Gretchen Hannah, Meetings and Special Events Planner; and Crista Da Via, Administrative Assistant.
Rich Fetchiet, Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Development for the School of Dentistry, said the campaign celebration emphasized the importance of alumni, friends and donors in maintaining a world-class dental school. “I am so impressed with, and so proud of, the people who organized and contributed to this campaign,” Fetchiet said. “They have helped us ensure and extend the level of excellence that has made the school a world leader in dental education.
“This level and quality of support from our generous and loyal donors is what sets us apart and guarantees the margin of excellence that has helped our students, faculty and alumni be recognized as truly the ‘Leaders and Best,’” Fetchiet said.