A&S Insert for Spring Blue

A&S Insert for Spring Blue

A&S Insert for Spring Blue

Magnificent Obsession

What does the distinctlyDrake campaign have to do with the cable series “Da Vinci’s Demons”? Not much – except to provide me with an occasion to talk about the virtue of magnificence. As you know from your art history class – or from watching the tv series – one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s earliest and most important patrons was Lorenzo de’ Medici, or Lorenzo the Magnificent, as he was known back in the day.

“Magnificent” is a tag he shared with other leaders, like the Frankish king Charlemagne (Charles the Great) and the Russian Czar Peter the Great (or, the heroes of my favorite western, The Magnificent Seven). They were called “magnificent” not because they were exceptionally big or particularly stylish (though both Lorenzo and Peter certainly were stylish). There were called “magnificent” or “great” because various political philosophers going all the way back to Socrates believed that “magnificence” was the cardinal virtue of a ruler, combining honesty, grace, courtesy, justice, courage, temperateness, and, most of all, generosity. All this should be familiar to those of you who studied Edmund Spenser’s epic poem, The Faerie Queen, with me. But I digress.

Or not. Over the course of the distinclyDrake campaign the college has benefited from the magnificence of many, many generous people. As the campaign reaches its close, I want to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of people who have invested in the future the College of Arts & Sciences and Drake University.

Magnum Force

Not surprisingly, due to our focus on STEM@Drake, the sciences have garnered a fair share of the pot. There is, for instance, the Clifford Rea Chair in Biology, Roger Ceilley Resource Center, the Judith A. Lindquist Excellence in Science, Technology, Math, and Business Scholarship, Tracy Codel Excellence in Math Education Scholarship, George Huff Endowed Fund, and the Professor Rodney Rogers Endowed Scholarship, to cite just a few examples.

Two years ago Cathy and Steve Lacy donated $500000 to renovate the organic chemistry labs in Harvey Ingham. That gift created an enhanced, state-of-the-art learning environment for hundreds of students every semester. Even more than that, it served as a catalyst for our STEM@Drake project to update and add needed space for our science, technology, education, and math facilities. The Lacy’s gift sparked to complete renovation of Harvey Ingham. Last summer we did three physics labs, three classrooms (including HI 102), the hallways, and the entry lobby to 102 & 104, the large lecture halls. This coming summer we will do two more labs, more classrooms, office space, research labs, and add restrooms to each floor. By fall semester 2015, the inside of Harvey Ingham will be redone top to bottom – without changing the external architecture designed by Eliel and Eero Saarinen in 1949. And, if things go as planned, next fall construction will begin on two new buildings and the renovation of Olin Hall.

In the Giving Vein

The sciences, however, are not the only areas to have enjoyed success in the campaign. The fine arts, and in particular, Music, have benefitted from the generosity of our alumni and friends. There is the Fred and Patty Turner Jazz Center, the Fred and Patty Turner Professor of Jazz, the LaVerne and Sedrel Briggs Professor of Cello and the LaVerne, Sedrel Briggs Endowed Cello Scholarship, the Don Marcoullier Endowment for Band Excellence, and the Drake University Jordan Concerts endowment. Speaking of the Jordan stage, I do not want to omit the Keys to Excellence campaign, the Music department’s effort, in cooperation with Yamaha Corporation of America and West Music, to replace 66 practice, studio, classroom, and concert pianos. The signature gift, a $110000 Yamaha CFX Grand piano, one of just a handful that exist on stages in the United States, came from Sally Bartlett, a newfound friend of Drake.

James Foster, an alumnus and old friend of Drake, has made a major $2.5 million estate gift to the College of Arts and Sciences: a remarkable contribution that will establish the James Foster Professorship in Music, the James Foster Opera Theatre, and the James Foster Global Music Scholars Program. For years, Mr. Foster has provided annual support to make travel by Music students to international competitions and programs possible. This gift will provide permanent support for individual student and group travel, as well as providing funding for Drake’s annual spring opera (a particular love of Mr. Foster) and for a professorship in Music, with emphasis on opera. Last year the University announced a similar gift by Mr. Foster to the College of Business and Public Administration, establishing the James Foster Distinguished Professorship of International Business and the James Foster Global Business Scholars Program. In total, Mr. Foster's contributions to the distinctlyDrake campaign will exceed $7 million, making him one of our largest benefactors.

Greatest Show on Earth

But it would be wrong to suggest that the distinctlyDrake campaign has reached its goal solely as a consequence of the generosity of those with deeper pockets than most of us. Quite the contrary. As John Smith announced, over 22,000 alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and students (yes, students) contributed to the campaign’s success. An apt example is Friends of Drake Arts. Each year nearly 400 friends contribute over $75000 that goes directly into supporting our fine arts program, making possible plays, exhibitions, performances, faculty research, student travel, and countless other activities. Since the campaign’s start, that’s over $350000 – most of it given in gifts of $35, $50, or $100. The same thing is true of our annual fund, in which a similar amount goes towards sustaining the distinctive learning experience the college strives to provide. This is what Ronald Reagan might have called a “trickle up” fundraising campaign.

The “greatness” that I am trying to describe does not attend to the amount of the gift; rather, it pertains to the character of those who contributed to the campaign, your greatness of heart. You understand – as anyone affiliated with Drake should understand, as Lorenzo and Charles and Peter understood – that responsible citizenship requires the engagement of mind, of effort, and of money to ensure that an institution, its people and its works, flourishes. It requires magnificence – and our gratitude.