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Making it happen: ’Now for Tomorrow’ Campaign prepares for groundbreaking in April

by Marianne Tucker Puhalla

So close, yet so far. These are some of the words Sue Helwig, M.S., vice president of University Advancement, uses to describe the status of the Now for Tomorrow (NFT) Campaign.

The largest fundraising undertaking in the history of the University, the campaign’s goal of $30 million is in reach, with more than $29 million pledged or in-hand as of Dec. 31 – $12 million more than the institution has ever raised in a single undertaking. Friends and supporters are invited to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new building on Wednesday, April 17 at 11 a.m. Despite closing in on apparent success, Helwig says her team will continue with their fundraising efforts.

“We have raised enough to build the new wing of the Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Science Center,’’ she says, “and are now working to see the project is properly completed by securing the funds necessary to renovate the existing portion of the building into a research facility unlike any in the region. We are committed to making this a center that our alumni can be proud of and that will serve our students, faculty and staff for decades to come.”

The three-pronged mission of the campaign provides donors with opportunities to give to the area of their greatest interest and where they see the greatest need. Alumni and friends have risen to the challenge in spectacular fashion.

At least $15 million of the $30 million goal is dedicated to the construction of and equipment for the Henry Science Center. With a lead gift from the late Frank M. Henry, the two-phase project includes a new three-story, 52,000-square-foot wing followed by renovations to the existing 28,500-square-foot science center. The completed project will better serve students in the health sciences and natural sciences. Alumni and friends of the University have pledged about $13.4 million in support of the building.

An additional $12 million of the campaign goal is dedicated to increasing endowed scholarship funding, thereby helping the University lower students’ debt. This portion of the campaign has been met. “Scholarship support is so important to Misericordia that we will continue to accept gifts for this program. There is no better way to help students in perpetuity,” Helwig adds. “Anything we can do to make it easier for students to get a Misericordia education makes the University and the community stronger.”

Lastly, the campaign’s remaining $3 million challenge supports the Misericordia Annual Fund, which provides the administration with the monetary reserves that are required to move quickly on opportunities to serve students. Helwig expects to exceed this portion of the goal by June.

“Two years ago, we were not sure we could do it,’’ President Thomas J. Botzman, Ph.D., says, “but today – not only are we on target to meet our campaign goal – we are two and a half years ahead of our fundraising schedule. We are so pleased that alumni, friends, neighbors, corporations, foundations and state government have seen the need for us to upgrade our facilities and tackle student debt. When we are done, we will have built the largest academic building on campus and significantly increased the endowment.

“It is obvious that people from the community and from our Misericordia family believe in us and believe in our mission. We hope that others will step up and help us see this project through,” he adds.

Misericordia will borrow as much as one-third of the cost of the new building through a bond offering. Any additional funds raised over the next two years will alleviate the debt load.

Mark Van Etten, B.S., vice president of Finance and Administration, anticipates construction on the new wing to happen from May through late summer 2020. At that time, renovations will begin on the existing wing, and will last until about July 2021.

For information about the campaign, or to access an easy-to-use online giving form, please go to nft.misericordia.edu and click on the Give Now for Tomorrow link. For additional information, please contact Helwig at shelwig@misericordia.edu, 570-674-6368.