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NDSU Foundation campaign sets state fundraising record with $586.7 million

Leaders applaud NDSU President Dean Bresciani for being an integral part of the campaign, but the administrator said the effort was due to the Bison family.

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From left: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum; North Dakota State University Foundation In Our Hands Co-chair Steve Swiontek; NDSU President Dean Bresciani; his wife, Kristi Hanson; In Our Hands Co-chairs Robert and Shelia Challey; and NDSU Foundation President and CEO John Glover applaud as the grand total raised for the six-year In Our Hands fundraising campaign is announced in the McGovern Alumni Center on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022.
David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — A North Dakota State University Foundation fundraiser has become the largest campaign in the state’s history, leaders announced Monday, Feb. 14.

More than 15,000 people donated nearly $586.7 million to In Our Hands, a campaign that will pay for scholarships, facilities, faculty and programs. The six-year fundraiser wrapped up Dec. 31 and far surpassed its $400 million goal.

“We thought there was no better way to show our love for NDSU than Valentine’s Day,” NDSU Foundation President and CEO John Glover said during the event at the McGovern Alumni Center.

The announcement was made to a standing-room only audience, with a band playing in the background and leaders guessing the final tally for the campaign as if on “The Price is Right.”

The Foundation initially was going to shoot for $200 million but then decided to go for $400 million, a goal that was shattered 20 months ahead of schedule, Glover said.

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Funds already have gone to work in funding scholarships for students. Students will be able to tap more than $238 million because of the campaign.

“This campaign, at the end of the day, is about our students,” Glover said.

The campaign also more than doubled NDSU’s endowment to $457 million, the foundation said. It was used to fund several projects on campus, such as the Sanford Health Athletics Complex, Aldevron Tower and the Nodak Insurance Co. Football Performance Complex.

NDSU President Dean Bresciani’s vision was an integral part of the campaign’s success, In Our Hands Co-chair Robert Challey said. Bresciani issued a call more than six years ago to the community to increase philanthropic support for students through scholarships, as well as investing in faculty, campus infrastructure and programs.

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That created passion for the university that will continue into the future, campaign Co-Chair Steve Swiontek said.

“They want to be a part of that and make a difference,” he said.

Challey noted Bresciani donated his estate to the school, making him one of the most generous donors in NDSU history. That announcement came after the State Board of Higher Education and Bresciani came to an agreement to have him step down by the end of the year.

Bresciani was criticized in an evaluation conducted by North Dakota University System Mark Hagerott last year ahead of the board asking the NDSU president to step down. Hagerott said the university’s research position was eroding compared to the rest of the country.

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The chancellor also noted declining enrollment and controversy over hiring leadership.

NDSU regained its status from Carnegie as an R1, or very high research activity, university in December.

NDSU is on a springboard to more extraordinary success, Bresciani said.

“It puts us on a stage where we can compete with some of the best universities in the country, and we are competing with some of the best universities in the country,” he said.

Those connected to NDSU share a passion for contributing and accomplishing more than any other college or university in the state, Bresciani said. People support NDSU because they know the school is committed to improving life in North Dakota and around the nation, he said.

“A lot of universities come up with reasons not to succeed,” he said. “We come up with the ways to succeed.”

The 15,000-plus people who donated to the campaign had different reasons for giving, but they all have NDSU running in their blood, Challey said. Gov. Doug Burgum, who spoke at the event, said the campaign sends a signal to students that people care deeply about NDSU.

“What we have accomplished here isn’t just the record-breaking higher education campaign,” Bresciani said. “It is the biggest fundraising effort in the history of the state of North Dakota. We have done that collectively as the Bison family.”

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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