From President Dunlap

Dr. DunlapThere’s a painting in the President’s House at Wofford that used to be something of an enigma. It’s a big and handsome work depicting a clipper ship under full sail speeding through tempestuous seas, but it seemed to have no specific connection to the college. Our assumption was that a previous donor or president must have had a fondness for nautical scenes.

But we recently learned that the ship in the painting is the vaunted Adelaide which, like Wofford College, was launched in 1854 and which, a decade later, broke the transatlantic record from New York to Liverpool, thereby winning cash and renown as the fastest, sleekest vessel afloat. By turning storms and high winds to advantage, it had simply sailed to glory.

Now we understand.

And there could be no better metaphor for our present circumstance. While the winds of a dire economic downturn continue to howl, Wofford, with its undaunted crew and precious cargo, is continuing to sail full speed ahead into the future, determined to match the Adelaide’s success. And, like those who once provided the incentive for American shipping to become the pride of the Seven Seas, a current Wofford trustee has created a truly glittering prize.

Mike Brown, Wofford Class of ‘76, has issued a dramatic challenge: If each year, during the next 3 years of diminished endowment revenue, we can add 400 new Annual Fund donors of 3-year pledges (a minimum of $50 per year for a total gift of at least $150), he will donate $200,000 to the college each year for a total of $600,000.

A new donor is defined as anyone who did not give in the previous year. So, if you are such a potential donor—or know such a potential donor—there’s a chance to make a huge difference with even a modest gift. But the first year of the challenge ends on this coming New Year’s Day, so a lot of money is on the line and the need to respond is urgent.

Amidst the current tempest, this is a hugely important opportunity, one that will directly benefit every person who boards the good ship Wofford over years to come. The Annual Fund includes the Terrier Club, the Unrestricted Annual Fund, and the Friends of the Library, so, however you choose to designate your gift, it will have far reaching consequences.

You know the achievements of recent years. You know the accolades we’ve won, and you know the worldwide storm we’re in is truly a typhoon. Now, thanks to Mike Brown, you can make that painting in the President’s House prophetic, helping Wofford confirm that we too, in our time, are the sleekest, fastest thing afloat!


Benjamin B. Dunlap, President


How To Participate

If you did not make a gift to the Annual Fund (Unrestricted, Terrier Club or Friends of the Library) in 2009: 

  • You qualify as a new donor and you can help us win $200,000 by making a pledge of at least $50 for the next three years ($150 total).
  • For three years, we will be trying to acquire at least 400 new donors each year (for a total of 1,200).
  • For each year that we are successful, Mike Brown ’76 will contribute an additional $200,000 ($600,000 total) to the Annual Fund. 

If you did make a gift to the Annual Fund in 2009: 

  • You can still help Wofford with this Challenge!  Renew your support in 2010 and consider a three-year pledge. Knowing that we can count on your gift over the next three years allows us to direct our time and resources towards acquiring new donors.
  • In addition, you can help in the acquisition by asking your Wofford friends to join the challenge through the “Share with a Friend” link above.


Why This Is Important

The effects of the global recession have been and continue to be felt on Wofford’s campus. Wofford’s faculty, staff, and Board of Trustees have all been called upon to adapt quickly to a new economic reality in order to preserve the tremendous value of a Wofford education for current and future students.

Working together, we are creating a leaner, more efficient Wofford that will not only weather the storm, but will emerge from it even stronger when the crisis has passed.

In 2008-2009, the following sources of revenue comprised the annual operating budget for Wofford:

  • 76% tuition, room and board
  • 10% earnings from the endowment
  • 4% Annual Fund (Unrestricted and Terrier Club)
  • 4% currently funded scholarships and programs
  • 6% other (athletic events, summer programs, etc.).

Due to a 30% drop in the value of the endowment (and a 12 trailing quarters policy), proceeds from the endowment are expected to drop from 10% to only 6% over the next 3 budget years--creating an approximate $3 million deficit.

There are only three ways to make up this deficit:  

  • increasing student tuition
  • reducing the college budget
  • increasing gifts to the Annual Fund.

Raising tuition to the minimum tolerable levels (a 2.9% increase in 2009) to protect enrollment and deeply slashing operating budgets will help alleviate the shortfall over the next three years, but it won’t be enough.

The Annual Fund provides an opportunity to bridge the gap until the endowment recovers because gifts to the Annual Fund (including the Terrier Club and the Unrestricted Annual Fund) provide immediate relief to the operating budget and financial aid to students in need.

Together, we can continue to strengthen Wofford as a National Liberal Arts College.

Why Participation Matters

People often have the misconception that if they can’t make a large gift, they are not making a difference. However, participating in the annual giving program (at any level) can have a huge impact on Wofford. Here are some reasons why:

  • Many $25, $50 and $100 gifts gain strength in numbers.
  • Alumni and friends who are in the habit of making a gift (regardless of size) are much more inclined to make a major gift if and when they are able.
  • Foundations and corporations often use participation percentages as a measure of quality and satisfaction from those who are closest to the college. By improving our participation percentage we position ourselves better for large grants.
  • Prospective students and their families equate high participation percentages with customer satisfaction.
  • Participation is one factor used in college ratings systems such as US News and World Report.
  • As Wofford’s reputation grows, so does the value (or perceived value) of every graduate’s diploma.

Every Gift Counts
Every gift, regardless of size, is important to the Annual Fund. Participation in the Annual Fund demonstrates your affirmation of Wofford College. Join this winning team today!

More About The Annual Fund

The Annual Fund is the cornerstone of Wofford’s giving program. Every gift positively impacts the operating budget.

Gifts to the Annual Fund (including Unrestricted, Terrier Club and Friends of the Library) help current students by reducing tuition and funding scholarships. The Annual Fund also helps pay for faculty salaries, maintaining the physical campus and updating technology.

In 2009, the Annual Fund contributed nearly $2.7 million to the college’s operating budget.

Why give to the Annual Fund?

There are so many reasons to give to the Annual Fund. Here are just a few:

  • Changing the life of a student is a pretty good return on investment.
  • Participation rates affect college rankings, and a higher ranking will make a Wofford degree more valuable.
  • Wofford depends on Annual Fund support because tuition dollars cover only part of Wofford’s yearly operating expenses.
  • Many choose to give back to Wofford because Wofford has given so much to them.
  • Give for the love of Wofford.

So the real question is, why not give to the Annual Fund?

Every gift matters.