Spirit Campaign exceeds expectations

FUNDS UND event celebrates conclusion of major fundraising initiative.

The UND Clinical Laboratory Science Program, which received $10,000 as part of the UND Spirit Campaign, is one of many programs that has received money from the venture. Today marks the conclusion of the fundraising endeavor. File photo.

Today, UND will hold the Homecoming week Spirit Celebration at 3 p.m. in the Chester Fritz Auditorium. The Spirit Celebration is meant to recognize the impact of philanthropy on behalf of the students, staff and alumni of UND.

The North Dakota Spirit Campaign has brought in over $300 million dollars as of April, exceeding the expectations of everyone involved, according to Tim O’Keefe, executive vice president and CEO of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation.

“This is over three times the size of any philanthropy campaign that the state has ever conducted before and has really set the bar high for the future,” O’Keefe said.

The money raised will be used to help students and educators, along with funding programs around campus. The celebration will detail how the money raised by the North Dakota Spirit campaign impacts life on campus.

According to O’Keefe, the majority of donations were contributed by UND Alumni.

“The campaign has been led by two incredible individuals, John Barry and Linda Pancratz.  Between the two of them, they have provided the definition of philanthropists with the time and effort they have invested into the campaign,” O’Keefe said. “They provided, energy, inspiration and guidance in this campaign. They have been role models for that great success that has occurred here.”

The goal was to contribute approximately $100 million toward students, $100 million toward educators, $50 million to programs and $50 million to places. However, since the campaign exceeded the goal of $300 million, they will have more money to put toward these four as they see fit. The North Dakota Spirit website said to donors, “Your partnership supports UND’s commitment to its passionate students, inspirational educators, innovative programs, and extraordinary places.”

“I think people tend to focus just on the number,” O’Keefe said. “When people look inside the number and see the number of new endowments created, the number of new programs and the number of students touched by this, they will get a real glimpse of what this campaign has accomplished and will realize the shift in philanthropy that this has caused in North Dakota.”

Bert Jacobs, co-founder and Chief Executive Optimist of Life is good, an online retailer, will be a special guest speaker at the event, with his speech wrapping up the campaign. He will be discussing his company’s message of promoting optimism and helping others in the community. Burt and his brother, John Jacobs, founded the company, which started off as nothing more than the two of them traveling the country and selling their T-shirts in college dorms.

“The message that Bert Jacobs is going to deliver is one that students should hear,” UND spokesman Peter Johnson said. Students are going to be going out into the world and getting involved in communities and get opportunities to be involved in philanthropic activities. You have to admire anyone who goes by ‘Chief Optimist’ rather than CEO. They built their business with a philanthropic focus in mind. Hearing him speak will be beneficial to anyone who plans to get involved in business.”

There will be five $1,000 scholarships for nominated students who attend the Spirit Celebration, as well as a $5,000 donation to a nominated student organization that attends the event.

“I think that this is an event that students will definitely enjoy,” Johnson said.

Larry Philbin is the news editor of The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].