LU News Archive

LU raises campaign goal to $125 million, $95 million raised to date

Lamar University officials are expressing their gratefulness for the support they have seen in the university's first-ever campaign. The university's "Investing in the Future" comprehensive campaign has raised $95 million, nearing the $100 million goal with two years remaining in the seven-year effort, officials said. Now a new goal has been set at $125 million.

Campaign co-chairs Greg Thompson of Beaumont and Mike Aldredge of Bellville, and honorary chair Elvis Mason of Dallas, decided to present the idea of increasing the campaign goal to the campaign cabinet members.

“Elvis, Mike and I are excited by the tremendous positive response from our Campaign Cabinet about raising the goal to $125 million,” Thompson said. “The university team is reenergized by the challenge and is 100 percent behind it. We stand at over $95 million due to the phenomenal work of many and the enthusiasm amid donors on the future of Lamar University.”

"In spite of an uncertain economy, friends, alumni and business leaders have given unprecedented support to the campaign," said Camille Mouton, vice president for university advancement. "There is a growing sense of pride in the university among its employees, alumni, friends, corporations and foundations.

"We are so thankful for the support we have seen," she said, "and we are very excited to set our eyes on a new goal as we enter the final stretch of the campaign."

The university began the campaign, its first ever, in March 2006.

Since its inception, more than 27,000 individual gifts have been given in the campaign, with 53 percent coming from Southeast Texas and 47 percent from beyond the region.

Of the total raised to date, $76.5 million has benefited academic programs, student scholarships and undesignated academic programs and $18.5 million is supporting athletics programs.

The university's original goal for the campaign was to raise $50 million over five years. However, when $46 million was raised during the first two years of the campaign, the university's cabinet members recognized the unprecedented support and enthusiasm for the university and set a much more ambitious goal of raising $100 million over seven years, Mouton said.

"We thought this was a real stretch goal for us, but so many have stepped up to the challenge that the wisdom of the cabinet's decision is abundantly clear," she said. “Now we are raising the goal again to accommodate many others who want to participate in the campaign and to further strengthen the university.”

"I have been both surprised and grateful for the outpouring of financial support for Lamar from across the nation," said Elvis Mason, a 1959 graduate of Lamar and the honorary campaign chair.

The giving has spread well across all areas of the university, Mouton said. So far 28 percent of the total raised has gone to scholarships, 35 percent to academic programs, 17.5 percent for undesignated purposes, and 19.5 percent to athletics.

Of the total amount given, 52 percent has come from alumni, 23 percent from friends of the university, and 25 percent from corporations and foundations. Of the 513 privately funded scholarships at LU, 187 have been created since the campaign began, a 36 percent increase.

"When the campaign began, it would have been hard for anyone to imagine the kind of impact its results are having," said University President James Simmons. "From the smallest to the largest gifts, every person's generosity is building a better campus and enriching the lives of our students. We're a more vibrant, successful university because of each one of our donors. The support we are receiving is transformational."

As the "Investing in the Future" campaign continues, more emphasis is being placed on the benefits of planned gifts and a specific goal of bringing in a third of the campaign total through planned giving has been set, Mouton said. Planned gifts now account for 27 percent of the total raised during the campaign.

"There are many charitable giving vehicles that benefit donors in their lifetimes while leaving a lasting benefit for Lamar University for generations to come," Mouton said. "Consideration of planned gifts often enables donors to make transformational gifts and create a legacy while benefiting their families - a true win-win!"

Lamar alumnus and Legacy Society member Don Lyle said "Once you’ve made the decision to give, there are investment professionals who, along with the staff at Lamar, are intimately aware of the current tax laws and the current structures through which you can make a planned gift in a way most beneficial to the institution and yourself."

The campaign has led to a number of significant improvements to the campus and the university:

- There are four named departments - the JoAnne Gay Dishman Department of Nursing, the Phillip M. Drayer Department of Electrical Engineering, the Dan F. Smith Department of Chemical Engineering, and the Mary Margaret Moore Department of Music.

- More than $27 million has been raised in scholarship endowments, including support for the Mirabeau Scholars program, the $1 million Valero Scholarship and the $1.6 million Legends of Southeast Texas Scholarships, and the Gena and Albert G. Reaud Scholarship.

- Faculty and academic programs have benefited from $33 million in funds, including the Reese Construction Management Program and the David J. Beck Fellowship.

- Lamar’s campus is enhanced by the Sheila Umphrey Recreational Sports Center.

- The return of NCAA Division I FCS football was made possible through the support of Lamar’s students and facilitated, in large part, by gifts given during the campaign. The team works out in the Dauphin Athletic Complex, practices on the Vernon Glass Field of Champions and plays in Provost Umphrey Stadium. The Dan F. and Sandra A. Smith Press Box and Morgan Suites overlook W.S. "Bud" Leonard Field. Fans can keep track of the game on the state-of-the-art Education First Federal Credit Union scoreboard.

- LU athletics also boasts three brand new facilities to support other sports: The Emma and H.D. "Tex" Strait Baseball Training Facility, The Thompson Family Tennis Center and the Dauphin Athletic Complex.

Serving on the campaign cabinet are Elvis Mason, honorary chair, Dallas; Michael Aldredge, co-chair, Bellville; Greg Thompson, co-chair, Beaumont; David J. Beck, Houston; Dr. Tamerla Chavis, Beaumont; William Childs, Kerrville; Will Crenshaw, Beaumont; Phillip M. Drayer, Dallas; Tyrell Garth, Beaumont; Michael Grimes, Houston; Dan Hallmark, Beaumont; Don Lyle, La Jolla, Calif.; Charles Mason Jr., Beaumont; Douglas Matthews, Galveston; William Mitchell, Dripping Springs; Ray Moore, Beaumont; Pat Parsons, Beaumont; Jordan Reese III, Houston; Regina Rogers, Beaumont, William Scott, Nederland; Dan F. Smith, Houston; and Roy Steinhagen, Beaumont.

For more information about the campaign, call (409) 880-8422.