It was a proud and historic moment for Carleton University on Wednesday as it celebrated the successful close of its campaign to raise $300 million.
Not only was the Collaborate Campaign the most ambitious of its kind for the university but it has deservedly earned itself bragging rights for being the largest completed fundraising campaign in Ottawa, to date.
The campaign passed its target as of February and ended up raising more than $308 million.
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“Not too shabby,” Carleton University’s president and vice-chancellor Benoit-Antoine Bacon said with a smile as he spoke at the podium, acknowledging the generosity of the school’s donors, alumni, supporters and partners.
Bacon, who’s nine months into his new job, was joined at the event by Jennifer Conley, chief advancement officer for Carleton University. She’s also a former winner of the AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) Ottawa Fundraising Executive of the Year and will officially be a Carleton graduate later this spring. She’s almost done her Master’s degree there in philanthropy and non-profit leadership.
The celebration was held in the scenic atrium of the Richcraft Hall building, overlooking the Rideau River.
Conley thanked her fellow Ravens, using the school’s sporty mascot as a reference to the community of supporters assembled before her. Fun fact: a group of ravens is called a conspiracy.
“A heartfelt thank you to each and everyone of you for being such a ‘conspiracy’ of good in our world,” said Conley. “Because of your generosity and your goal for creating social, economic and common good, together we have raised a ridiculous amount of money.”
Bacon and Conley spoke on stage, under a striking and massive canopy of helium-filled red balloons, attached to a ribbon grid. The balloons were more than just pretty decor. They were part of an installation created specifically for the evening by associate professor Manuel Baez from Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism and his students. The team had been working hard until about 3 a.m., the room heard.
The installation, called Collaborative Ascension, served as a metaphor for Carleton’s limitless potential. It was inspired by the work of Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) and consisted of more than 1,000 balloons.
Guests also heard how the Collaborate Campaign involved 29,000 donors, the creation of 404 new student scholarships and 191 FutureFunder projects.
While universities receive most of their funding from government sources and tuition fees, they also rely on philanthropy as an important contribution to the scientific and social advances that universities aim to provide.
“It’s not about giving to Carleton, it’s giving through Carleton to do great things.”
“If we inspire to do truly great things for our community or the wider world we need the visionary support of partners and benefactors,” said Bacon. “It’s not about giving to Carleton, it’s giving through Carleton to do great things.”
Bacon acknowledged his predecessors, interim president Alastair Summerlee, and Roseann O’Reilly Runte, who was head of Carleton when the campaign was publicly launched in 2015.
“We have a reputation here at Carleton as a caring and engaged community and believe me — I’ve been around — this is true,” said Bacon. This is a very, very special place.”
Attendees included Carleton University provost and vice president Jerry Tomberlin and such Carleton University board members as Dr. Chris Carruthers, past chair; Dr. Pradeep Merchant, site chief of neonatology at The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus; and Greg Farrell, retired president and COO of Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.
Among the alumni in attendance were Jim Taggart, chairman of Taggart Group of Companies, and his wife, retired public servant Jane Panet, as well as Rob Notman, regional managing director of Optimum Talent, and his wife, Nancy. They first met at Carleton. Supporters also included Glebe grocer Jim McKeen, who, with his daughter and store director Rebecca, have endowed the McKeen Metro Glebe Sponsorship.
Guests helped themselves to a buffet of food, relaxed on comfy white couches and took in some live music performed by a jazz trio. There were large panels set up around the room with information on some of the projects supported by the campaign, to allow guests to learn about the impact their support will have on Carleton students.