University Exceeds Boldly Forward Capital Campaign $150 Million Goal
The goal was to raise $150 million to enhance the future of the University. In 9½ years, the University exceeded that lofty goal with the Boldly Forward Capital Campaign.
With the support of 6,266 donors, the University raised $155 million between July 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2021, to support scholarships, faculty, programs, facilities, the Learning Commons and more.
“I’m very thankful to all of the donors, corporations, institutions, alumni and friends,” said Dr. Gary Cowger, Boldly Forward Campaign Chair and member of the University Board of Trustees. “It kind of got a life of its own, and it shows how much people really do care about Kettering and the future for our students, for Kettering and for Flint.”
The campaign wasn’t without challenges as the Flint Water Crisis came to light shortly after the campaign began and the COVID-19 pandemic started near the end of the campaign.
“I think the other thing that was impressive is no one ever gave up,” Cowger said. “We just kept saying that we were going to get this done, and we just kept working diligently at it.”
He said he wasn’t surprised by the success of the campaign because of all of the hard work the campaign committees had put into it as well as the members of the University Advancement team.
“I just want to thank everybody because everybody really did come to the party on this,” Cowger said. “... I’m certainly grateful for the committees and all of the hard work they put in to get this accomplished.”
Perhaps the most significant — and visual — result of the campaign is the Learning Commons, a 105,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art academic hub for collaborative interactions and flexible learning spaces. The $63 million facility was funded with $45.4 million of Boldly Forward funds, including a $25 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and gifts from alumni, corporate partners, foundations and friends of the University.
The Learning Commons is just one of many campus additions funded through Boldly Forward. Other capital improvements totaling $15.4 million include the GM Mobility Research Center, the Harris Mobility Research Annex, the Charles J. Strosacker Chemical Engineering Classroom and Laboratory, several d.spaces, the FIRST Robotics Community Center, and the Jane Boon ‘90 and Norman Pearlstine Music Studio and Practice Rooms.
The 9,600-square-foot FIRST Robotics Community Center features machining and designing areas, a regulation-size practice field and eight bays for teams to store equipment. The University has hosted multiple robotics events in the space since its opening in 2014.
Boldly Forward also funded renovations at Atwood Stadium.
Since Atwood Stadium’s grand reopening in 2015, community organizations have hosted several annual events there, including the Vehicle City Gridiron Classic and Relay For Life. Atwood served as a COVID-19 drive-through testing site in 2020 and returned to hosting Kettering Commencement ceremonies in 2021. It’s also been home to the Flint City Bucks soccer team since 2019. The Flint City AFC women’s soccer team just moved in this year.
D.spaces have proven so popular since the first one opened in 2014 that nearly a dozen more will be in the Learning Commons.
Besides new and renovated spaces, the Boldly Forward campaign’s biggest benefit to students has been scholarships.
Totaling $37.4 million, student scholarships are the second-largest pot of Boldly Forward funds. During the course of the campaign, the University doubled its scholarship offerings. This includes the Keep Me Kettering Scholarship fund, which began in 2014.
The Keep Me Kettering fund provides support to students who struggle financially. Students can use the money to pay for tuition. Since its inception, the fund has raised more than $2 million, helping 243 students in need. In 2021, 41 students received support from the fund.
Stephen (‘57, ME) and Margaret Cerri established the largest scholarship fund of the campaign when they made a gift totaling $1 million in 2014. The scholarships are awarded to students with a financial need and are renewable. Fifty-five scholarships have been distributed to 23 students since the fund was established.
“Without a doubt, I owe my career successes to GMI,” Stephen Cerri said. “It was only natural to help Kettering students who want to be here but struggle financially with tuition. Peg and I tailored the scholarship for students in the same financial boat that I was in 65 years ago, making it renewable to reduce the recipients’ worry about the next year’s funding. I am hopeful that those who share this view will provide their support as well.”
For Bob (‘64, EE) and Marcie Oswald, it was the advantage students receive from international travel that inspired them to create and continue to support the Oswald International Fellowship endowment. The fund supports students who want to study abroad as well as faculty who want to teach and pursue research opportunities abroad.
“I had some international experience in my career, but it didn’t happen until the last assignment I had, and I was almost 50 years old when I got my first chance to spend time overseas,” Bob Oswald said. “What became very clear to me as a professional person, and to me and my wife both as family people, is that kind of experience early in a career could be invaluable.
"So, when we became aware of what the Kettering program had already initiated and it was well-established when we established our foundation, we said this is the way we would like to expand our support of the University,” he continued. “We’ve been extremely pleased with the results of the program in general, and obviously, we’re pleased with the part we’ve been able to play to help students be able to have that experience and to be able to help faculty also be able to participate.”
Thanks to their endowment, 31 students have received support this year.
The impact of these scholarships as well as the many others the University offers has been immeasurable.
Isaac Neice (‘24, ME) received a scholarship from the Roger Lachele Student Endowment, which helped him afford to attend Kettering.
“This scholarship is really making a difference in my world,” Neice said.
The Valentine Foundation Scholarship had a similar impact on Gabriel Johnson (‘23, Engineering Physics).
“I cannot express how much it aids me and allows me to go to school with much less stress,” he said. “... This scholarship is an incredible help to me and really allows me to focus all of my efforts on school.”
Reading the letters from recipients of the Dr. Hoagland '53 and Carol Hoagland Scholastic Achievement Award is encouraging for its donors.
“They are always grateful, and it’s encouraging to read that,” Lawrence said.
He was able to pay for his time at Kettering with earnings from his Co-op but received grants to attend graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He said he appreciated that support and wanted to help others.
“We set up a scholarship for scholastic achievement, and I wanted to do that because the scholastic achievement I achieved at Kettering opened up doors for me, so I wanted to provide those opportunities for others,” Lawrence said.
He said he hopes the students who received the scholarships will give back when they achieve success in their careers, and at least one recipient has already indicated that’s what she’ll do.
“You inspire me to give back,” Megan Eschelbach (‘22, ME) wrote in a letter to the Hoaglands. “When my time as a graduate student is up, I plan to follow your lead and give back through a scholarship as well. I cannot tell you how much it truly helps to receive this scholarship. It has alleviated my stresses and worries about the cost of college so that I can focus on my learning.”
The Boldly Forward campaign also contributed more than $28 million to support academic programs, such as the Academically Interested Minds (AIM) and Lives Improve Through Engineering and Science (LITES) precollege programs.
AIM is a free, five-week, residential precollege summer program designed to provide 11th-grade students with an intensive, academic experience. They attend classes in calculus, chemistry and engineering physics. The students also work in groups on a specific case study and learn about various opportunities available in the STEM field.
LITES is a two-week residential program for female students entering their senior year of high school. During the program, students explore the roles math, science and technology play in the development of innovations that make the world a better place. Students also have opportunities to strike up meaningful relationships with female mentors.
In addition to program support, Boldly Forward also funded an endowed professorship. In 2015, the Losh Family Business and Engineering Management Endowed Professorship was established to focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and business.
In 2012, the University asked its stakeholders to help it move boldly forward into the future — and they responded. The Boldly Forward Capital Campaign is the largest in the history of Kettering. It has already opened new opportunities for students with many more to come. The only thing left to say is thank you.
On average, 90% of AIM students enrolled at Kettering since 2011 have graduated.