Campaign aims for $125m

Aryn Plax
Editor in Chief

The University of La Verne has raised more than $82 million in gifts and pledges toward its comprehensive fundraising campaign “Create the Future.”

The campaign, with a goal set at $125 million, was announced at the Scholarship Gala on March 24.

The campaign began in 2013, when Myra Garcia-Fernandez, current senior director of development and university initiatives, was serving as vice president of university advancement.

“At that point in time, the University’s strategic vision had just been completed and we were just getting ready to start the campus master plan,” Garcia-Fernandez said. “Those two processes helped inform what the priorities of the campaign could be. A campaign will be roughly eight years in time frame.”

The campaign money will be allocated in three different areas. Capital, money used to build facilities like academic buildings, comprises 33 percent. Another 10 percent goes toward use in the current yearly budget. Endowments comprise 55 percent.

“Endowments take money as a gift, puts it in a bank account, and the interest from that gift can be used every year, but only the interest,” Provost Jonathan Reed said.

Gifts include endowments placed into an investment fund controlled by the Board of Trustees, which accrue interest at a rate of 4.75 percent over the span of 12 months, and cash gifts that can be spent immediately. Some cash gifts go toward capital; Art and Sarah Ludwick’s donation went toward building the Ludwick Center for Spirituality, Cultural Understanding, and Community Engagement. Otherwise, it can go toward current use.

“It can be anything that’s in this year’s budget, or it could be that the Board of Trustees says, ‘We have a special initiative that we want to do this year,’ that could be money that could be moved to do that special initiative,” said Sherri Mylott, vice president of university advancement.

Pledges are funds that donors promise to give to the University at a later time. Sometimes, donors write their pledges into their wills.

The University has gotten over 24,000 gifts and pledges, which established 30 student scholarships, funded four new research centers, and secured endowments for three faculty chairs. The University’s endowment is $100 million.

Individual endowment funds are made toward each chair, and the accrued interest pays the salary of each endowed chair.

The three chairs are the Searing Family Endowed Chair, filled by Ahmed Ispahani, professor of business administration and economics, the Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair in Computational Biology, filled by Tatiana Tatarinova, professor of computational biology, and the LaFetra Endowed Chair of Education, which has not been filled.

The four research centers are the Center for Neurodiversity, Learning and Wellness; Center for Educational Equity and Intercultural Research; the Randall and Janell Lewis Health and Wellness Center and Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The Wellness Center and Center for Innovation do not exist yet.

The “Create The Future” booklet said that the campaign’s primary goals are “ensuring quality,” “achieving excellence,” “assuring relevance,” and “promoting innovation.” “Ensuring quality” refers to things like FLEX courses and learning opportunities outside of classes, like Associated Students of University of La Verne or La Verne Experience, Mylott said.

“Achieving excellence” refers to the hiring of faculty to nurture a healthy academic environment, like the three endowed chairs. “Promoting innovation” refers to technological development, some of which will occur in the Randall and Janell Health and Wellness Center, a facility for student exercise and kinesiology courses.

“There’s also going to be an area in there that’s going to have research machines,” Mylott said.

“Our students will be able to come into their first kinesiology class – when the facility is built – get on those machines and do their biometrics. They’re going to be able to watch, during the course of their education, through these biometric readings on these machines, how they’re progressing in their health and wellness. That’s the innovation and technology that we’re talking about.”

While of the funds secured for current use are raised by hired callers, usually students, securing endowments is mostly done by administrators.

Administrators like Mylott and President Devorah Lieberman meet with donors several times to discuss what they are interested in funding.

They serve as middlemen between donors and heads of departments, who write proposals for what they want the donor to fund. Lieberman secured a $10 million gift from Anthony LaFetra in 2016, in exchange for naming the College of Education after him.

Lieberman said that LaFetra’s interest in the College of Education stemmed from his experiences in a Glendora public schools, where ULV alumni served as his teachers. After several meetings, the College of Education drafted a proposal.

“In the proposal that was presented to him, there was the Center for Neurodiversity, was I think an endowed chair, and scholarships, the things that he believed in the most,” Lieberman said.

Aryn Plax can be reached at

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