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The Capital Campaign is on the Move: Interview with Vice President Joseph Brosnan

In November of last year, The Campaign for Teachers College moved into its "public phase" by announcing that it had already reached $73 million toward its goal of $140 million. The campaign is the largest one of its kind for any school of education. The key priorities of the campaign include, among others, scholarships, new professorships, renovated facilities, and technology initiatives. Four months later, the editors of Inside TC are interviewing Joseph Brosnan, Vice President for Development and External Affairs on the progress of the campaign since its announcement. The following is an excerpt from the interview with the vice president:

Inside TC:Vice President Brosnan, can you tell us about what has happened since the announcement of the $73 million at the kick off gala?

VP Brosnan: First of all, I believe most people are aware that the kick off was very successful and a good opportunity to celebrate as well as to talk about the future of the institution and the campaign. I think what we've done since then is that we've maintained our momentum. The campaign is moving forward. At this point we stand at $81 million, which is considerable growth following the kick off.

Inside TC: Can you give us an idea of the fund raising since the kick off?

VP Brosnan:What it really breaks down to is that funds are continuing to come in. We've seen a large amount of growth in terms of cash flow, in terms of money coming in on a day-to-day basis as well as to the campaign in the form of pledges. Gift income generated from all sources is up by 58 percent over the same period compared to last year. Cash flow generated from major gifts is up 49.4 percent. Total support from corporate sources is up 88 percent and gifts from foundations are up 94 percent. The John Dewey Circle, which is comprised of donors who give a $1,000 or more to the TC Fund is up by 13 percent. So we feel really good about that.

Inside TC: How is the momentum carried out on a day-to-day basis?

VP Brosnan: Well, there are really two pieces to it. One is the public face which is Arthur (President Levine), the Board of Trustees, myself and some of the other key volunteers. Most people are aware that's happening on a daily basis. But the behind-the-scenes piece is really critical. We have strong research capabilities. It's looking at our entire database, our 70,000 plus alumni and identifying people who are in a position to help support the institution. There's an enormous amount of work that goes into that-from reviewing databases and other sources of information, to identifying individuals, then to qualifying them in terms of whether they are capable of making major gifts to TC. Then we have a major gifts team. Those three staffers are out in the field meeting with all those individuals, finding out what their interests are, looking to match their interests with our needs. This is the first time in TC's history that we've done this kind of groundwork in anticipation of the kind of solicitations that we do.

Inside TC: What about outreach activities?

VP Brosnan:These are the things that are important but which most people don't see. There's a lot of activity going on in terms of events that have taken place or will take place, whether in people's homes, programs at national conferences, or the wide array of individual lunches and dinners that we sponsor. For example, we just had a luncheon with 28 Wall Street prospects that one of our Trustees, Jeff Peek, hosted. We've got staff members who are out on the road. In early January, to name one event, the Office of Alumni Relations held a reception at the City Tavern Club in Washington, D.C. and Trustee Claude Mayberry welcomed more than 60 alumni. We already have scheduled events from now until the summer ranging from receptions at AERA (American Educational Research Association), where the campaign video will be shown, to an event featuring Professor Jay Heubert where alumni and prospects from northern New Jersey will be invited to the Montclair Art Museum. And that's very important because it's a way to reconnect and re-engage alumni that may not have been involved in the College in a real positive way. That's helped us in terms of getting people to be in a position to help support the institution. The other thing that is important to mention is the work that the Office of External Affairs is doing. The more coverage we get the more the message gets out about what's going on at TC. This, in effect, helps generate interest and potential gifts.

Inside TC: How will all the groundwork that you're doing serve the long-term purposes of the campaign?

VP Brosnan. I get a sense that people really care what's going on right now at Teachers College. The public wants to support the campaign and they're not just individuals-they're corporations and foundations as well. So there's a sense that everything is moving forward and we feel confident that we'll meet all our goals at this point. Most campaigns start off their campaign with about 30 to 50 percent of the total in hand. We were able to start the campaign with over 50 percent of the total in gifts and pledges. That has helped us now as we continue to go out and reach our various constituencies. The fact is that we're already successful. It's the old cliché that success breeds success and I think that's really helping us right now. There's a sense of excitement. It has a kind of self-sustaining dynamic to it all. That's really important.

Inside TC: Finally, what is the institutional role in the campaign?

VP Brosnan: The campaign is not just the work of the Office of Development and External Affairs. This is an effort that really needs to involve the entire institution. We can't do this alone. The seminal work of the faculty, the impact that we have on education both locally and nationally, are emblematic of who we are as an institution. And, of course, our faculty are our critical link to our alumni. I'll be talking to the faculty at an upcoming faculty meeting about ways to engage them in the campaign.

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