Ohio Wesleyan's Merrick Hall was renovated to become the home of The OWU Connection with a gift to the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow capital campaign.

Ohio Wesleyan’s Connect Today, Create Tomorrow Campaign Reaches $100 Million in Donor Gifts and Commitments

By Cole Hatcher

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University’s Connect Today, Create Tomorrow fundraising campaign has reached $100 million in gifts and commitments – marking the halfway point toward its $200 million goal.

“This comprehensive campaign initiative is about securing the future of Ohio Wesleyan, and we are thrilled at the early show of support by our fellow alumni,” said co-chairs Kathryn Bradford Milligan and John Milligan of Hillsborough, California, members of the OWU Class of 1983.

Added co-chairs Nancy and Kevin McGinty, OWU Class of 1970, of Pepper Pike, Ohio: “We’re grateful for the generous response we’ve received for the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign. We’re also grateful for Ohio Wesleyan’s dedicated faculty and staff who work hard every day to strengthen the university’s place as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation.”

The seven-year campaign, launched in its leadership phase in July 2014, is the largest single fundraising initiative in Ohio Wesleyan’s history. The effort is comprehensive, with a special emphasis on advancing The OWU Connection, a unique approach to student learning that links academic theory with real-world practice; crosses academic department boundaries to support deeper, interconnected learning; and prepares students for global citizenship and leadership.

“We have described The OWU Connection as liberal arts for the 21st century,” said President Rock Jones, Ph.D., “and we are honored that our alumni, parents, and friends have responded so quickly and powerfully with philanthropic support for the initiative with their gifts to the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign.

“As donors support The OWU Connection, they are helping students to build diverse and global perspectives by funding Travel-Learning Courses and enhancing access and affordability through scholarships,” Jones said. “They are helping to integrate learning across disciplines by funding Course Connections networks and supporting faculty who encourage students to pursue multiple interests and majors. And they are encouraging practical application of knowledge through funding for internships, Summer Science Research Program experiences, and Theory-to-Practice Grants. Our donors are truly helping to create tomorrow." 

In addition to providing critical support for The OWU Connection, supporters of the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign have helped grow the university endowment with an emphasis on scholarship and faculty support, underwrite new curricular initiatives, and fund important building projects.

To reach the $100 million fundraising milestone, the university has received some of the largest gifts and commitments in its history, including several valued at more than $5 million. These include:

  •  $10 million from Louis A. Simpson, OWU Class of 1958, and his wife, Kimberly K. Querrey, including $8 million to help renovate Edwards Gymnasium and build the new Simpson Querrey Fitness Center, a facility dedicated to helping students develop healthy habits to integrate mind, body, and spirit; and $2 million to create the Louis A. Simpson ’58 Endowed Faculty Director for The Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship.
  •  $8 million from an anonymous alumni couple to fund the full restoration of Merrick Hall, previously closed for nearly 30 years. The contribution, which at the time represented the largest single outright gift in Ohio Wesleyan history, allowed the historic building to be transformed into the high-tech home of The OWU Connection.
  • $5 million from the Milligans to create The John and Kathryn Bradford Milligan ’83/’83 Endowed Fund for The OWU Connection.

The university has received many other contributions that echo the innovation and imagination of The OWU Connection. These include a $10 million commitment from an anonymous alumni couple with $3 million earmarked for a major-gift match program. The program increased the value of qualifying gifts with a $250,000 match. One of the matched gifts, in turn, created new $5,000 “OWU Promise Scholarships” and challenged other donors to fund their own Promise Scholarships.

Additional gifts are helping to improve student housing, including contributions to cover the full cost of constructing OWU’s first two “SLUplexes,” duplex-style buildings that will house four Small Living Units, or SLUs, of 12 students each. Ohio Wesleyan’s SLUs are living-learning communities of students who share an interest in specific topics and issues. The first SLUplex will open in fall 2016.

Campaign gifts at all levels also are benefiting the Ohio Wesleyan Fund, an unrestricted account that supports campus operations. These gifts include $364,878 raised April 20-22 during the second annual City Challenge, a 48-hour online event that enabled alumni in 20 cities to vie for the title of most Bishop pride. (Los Angeles had the highest percentage of alumni participants, while Cleveland raised the most dollars, with $61,265.)

Ohio Wesleyan will launch the public phase of its Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign in September 2017, in conjunction with the 175th anniversary celebration of its 1842 founding.

Colleen Garland, OWU’s vice president for university advancement, said the timing couldn’t be more appropriate.

“Our many generous donors are embracing Ohio Wesleyan’s future through the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign,” Garland said. “We are grateful for their vision and support as the university works to prepare students to be critical thinkers, effective collaborators, and global leaders. It’s exciting to witness the power and promise of these significant philanthropic investments in Ohio Wesleyan’s future.”

To learn more about The OWU Connection, visit owu.edu/connection. To make a gift to the university, visit owu.edu/waystogive.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers 87 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world experience. OWU’s 1,675 students represent 43 U.S. states and territories and 33 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.