The University Record, October 1, 1997

Campaign for Michigan - Over the Top at 1,371,837,199!

Spirits--all maize 'n blue--high at Power Center celebration

The glass at the Power Center for the Performing Arts reflected the spirit of the day, a special moment in the history of the University. Power Center was the site for a dramatic presentation by the Michigan Marching Band and statements from a number of students on what support from the campaign meant to them. Photo by Bob Kalmbach Alumnus Mike Wallace was one of the campaign co-chairs and emceed the Power Center celebration. Photo by D.C. Goings, Photo Services

By Jane R. Elgass

Over the top at $1,371,837,199! That was the "special moment in Michigan history" that was celebrated last week during three days of activities heralding the conclusion of the Campaign for Michigan, which officially closed Sept. 30.

Launched in October 1992 with a $1 billion goal, it is the most successful fund-raising effort in the University's history and the largest ever completed by an American public university.

The to-date tally was announced Friday morning in a dramatic presentation at the Power Center for the Performing Arts÷"Team Michigan. The Victory Celebration"÷that was at once touching, emotional and uplifting, a sort of "tug-at-the-heartstrings" multimedia presentation that carried with it a great sense of teamwork and community.

Streaming from shuttle buses that ferried them from area hotels, donors approached the Power Center in a checkerboard of maize and blue apparel, many carrying bags of souvenirs purchased at campus area bookstores and sports shops.

They were greeted by a steel drum band outside, and enjoyed renditions by the U-M Jazz Ensemble inside while waiting for the show to begin.

Emceed by campaign co-chair U-M alumnus Mike Wallace, the show interspersed excerpts from "This Is the Moment" with heartfelt statements by a group of students on what the support made possible by the campaign has meant to them.

The group included an LS&A senior majoring in classical archaeology, a pre-med LS&A senior majoring in German, a Residential College sophomore, a senior in architecture and urban planning, a first-year nursing student, a student working on a master's degree in social work, a violinist originally from Beijing who has played in Carnegie Hall, and a hearing-impaired student who said "I'm so proud to be a part of Michigan. Go Blue!"

Echoing the words of President Emeritus Harold T. Shapiro in his address at President Lee C. Bollinger's inauguration the previous week, Wallace said, "You can leave Ann Arbor, but you can never leave the University of Michigan. It's a fact.

"This is a special moment in Michigan history. We set out to make a difference."

The campaign was designed during three days of intensive meetings in fall 1990, sessions that included a lot of number-crunching and priority-setting to ensure that the long list of needs identified by campus units could be met by the campaign.

As the tally kept increasing, co-chair Ira Harris said, "Why not go for a billion?" His "co-conspirators," Wallace said, met that statement with a moment of quiet disbelief, followed by some low-key chuckling. What the heck, the group decided. "Think big, think blue, think billion÷and we embarked on our greatest adventure."

The moniker of "Team Michigan" became a calling, a force, Wallace said. "We knew we would make the difference for Michigan, a victory for Michigan," he said, adding that the campaign was one of "many helping many."

Spirits were raised high in the middle of the show with the arrival of the 235-member Michigan Marching Band, high-stepping down the aisles of the Power Center to fill the back of the stage, performing the fanfare and the "Victors" for the enthusiastic audience.

Two videos--one used to kick off the campaign five years ago, the other produced for the finale--illustrated the vitality of academic life, thespectrum of intellectual pursuits at Michigan and the intensity and high caliber of its students and faculty, underscoring the setting that Bollinger says allows students and faculty to "take joy in the complexity of the world."

Prior to the moment everyone was waiting for÷the announcement of the almost-final tally÷everyone donned blue jackets emblazoned with "Team Michigan" on the back and "M CAMPAIGN. We made the difference" on the front.

All of the "cast" members gathered on stage and joined in singing "Thank You Very Much" from the 1970 film Scrooge.

The announcement was highlighted by hundreds of balloons cascading from ceiling nets, with co-chair Bo Schembechler stating that the successful completion of the campaign was "like beating Notre Dame five years in a row." The show closed with stage and audience members linking arms to sing the alma mater.

Then the 1,000 donors and other members of the University community, all sporting their new jackets, departed the Power Center in a river of blue, through an archway of flags held by band members to the 24 buses that received a police escort to get everyone to a victory luncheon at the Indoor Track Building on time.

Volunteer co-chairs for the campaign were alumnus Allan D. Gilmour, retired vice chairman of Ford Motor Co. and director of Ford; alumnus J. Ira Harris, senior partner in the international investment banking firm of Lazard Freres and Co. in Chicago; Margart A. (Ranny) Riecker of Midland, president of the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation and trustee of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation; former head football coach and athletic director Bo Schembechler; and alumnus Mike Wallace of New York, correspondent with CBS News/60 Minutes.

The Campaign for Michigan is the third fund-raising drive undertaken by the University. The first, launched in 1964, raised $72 million in three years, surpassing a target of $55 million. The total was a record among public universities that stood for a decade. In 1983, the first Campaign for Michigan was launched, raising $187 million against a goal of $160 million.

The $1.37 billion tally-to-date includes $1,069,553,962 in new gifts and pledges and $302,283,237 in new bequest intentions.