TCU launched its “most ambitious” philanthropic campaign Thursday, $400 million shy of its $1 billion goal.
The Lead On campaign is meant to strengthen the university’s endowment and its support of scholarships and academic programs.
About 1,000 people RSVPd to the event at the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena, where they were immediately given a taste of the culture of TCU, greeted by representatives wearing purple blazers at the main doors. Before entering the main part of the arena to find their seats, the attendees could check their coats and mingle with each other over drinks.
Inside the darkened arena, a portion of the basketball court had been topped with new flooring on which chairs, the stage and a few tables had been arranged.
The arena was outfitted with three large screens and a multi-tiered stage set in front of a purple and black curtain backdrop–with messages from students, faculty, alumni, administration officials and members of the Board of Trustees.
The money will enable the university to shape the student body to be more diverse and inclusive, said Ronald Parker, a co-chair of the campaign and a member of TCU’s Board of Trustees.
“This Lead On campaign is going to put TCU at a level like it’s never ever seen before,” Parker said.
The last campaign raised about $435 million. So far, 44,000 people have contributed $600 million to the current campaign, said Chancellor Victor Boschini.
While previous campaigns have resulted in new and renovated facilities, this one focuses on supporting both students and faculty, specifically through scholarships and academic programs.
Mark Johnson, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, said he thinks the timing of this campaign is appropriate, in part because donors are ready to give.
Student’s speeches highlighted the various activities in which they can participate at TCU, such as organizations, athletics and musical ensembles. In addition, they spoke to different aspects of the campus culture, including the sense of community and the mentors and leaders who inspire them.
Several of the students framed their speeches as thank-you letters to TCU, expressing their gratitude and appreciation for the experiences and opportunities they have had at the university in a personal and creative way.
“What is this place? Why do we love it so much? It can only be described as that TCU touch,” said Josh Witkop, the president of TCU’s student government association.
Two representatives from the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine spoke, mentioning the selectivity of the new school as well as the gift of H. Paul Dorman that gave free tuition for the inaugural class.
Alum Anthony Fortino, a Broadway actor and financial entrepreneur, talked about how he was able to pursue both theater and accounting at TCU and then sang with the musical theater ensemble.
“TCU empowers the idea that you can belong in more than one world,” Fortino said.
Following the speeches, the marching band performed a medley of songs by Queen, their helmets lighting up in sync with the wristbands given to audience members before the start of the program.
After the band’s showcase, the audience walked to the Champions Club in Amon G. Carter Stadium where additional members of the TCU community were displaying their achievements.
For example, 17-year-old Carson Huey-You and 14-year-old Cannan Huey-You, the two youngest students to attend the university, were telling attendees about their research and academic pursuits.