UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III takes your questions.
Q. UMBC ended its successful Exceptional by Example capital campaign by raising $15 million more than the $100 million target for the effort. What gave you the faith that this target of $100 million could be met? How gratified are you that the goal was surpassed in the end?
— Richard Byrne ’86
A. I am very encouraged by the success of the campaign. We appreciate the support that people have given us. This success also lays the foundation for future campaigns.
What we’ve been doing at UMBC is developing a culture of philanthropy. The reason that we thought we could reach the target was the encouragement that we got from our partners. There are certain names that you hear and recognize on campus: Meyerhoff, Erickson, Shriver, Linehan, Dresher and Shattuck. They are very important names, because they are leaders in our community who believe in UMBC.
The campaign also speaks to the growing support we get from our alumni – and the ways that we are increasing the engagement of our alumni with campus.
Here is the challenge: We’re still in our first 50 years. But we are competing against institutions that are hundreds of years old and which have had much more experience in developing support from various groups, including alumni. We have to be as good as, if not better, than the best.
The success of this campaign reflects the fact that people are willing to support this institution, because of the quality of the enterprise. You know, 20 years ago, we hadn’t even raised $5 million. So to command the respect to raise $100 million not only shows how far we have come, but how far we could go. Because success is never final.
Q. Why has UMBC invested so heavily in Homecoming in recent years? What makes Homecoming matter – to you and to the university?
— Amanda Winters ’11
A. Homecoming gives us a great opportunity to get people back to campus. It gives alumni a chance to remember and to reflect on their experience here. It also gives alumni a chance to see how the university is changing – and to understand that the change that’s happening at UMBC isn’t just physical. Homecoming is a chance for alumni to come and talk with people here. And when they do, they have the chance to see the rise in our prominence as an “up and coming” university. They are amazed, for instance, to find out that UMBC is being compared with places like Stanford University in terms of our opportunities for undergraduates.
Homecoming is also a time for alumni to be really proud of their alma mater. To feel that UMBC really is, indeed, home. And it also provides an opportunity, with our annual Outstanding Alumni of the Year awards, to celebrate the achievements of our alumni.
And UMBC Homecoming also points to something else. Our academic program gets stronger and stronger all the time, but the university also celebrates the fact that out athletic program is getting stronger and stronger as well. One of the highlights of the weekend is the men’s soccer game on Friday night, October 14. It’s a showcase for a team that has become a national powerhouse in soccer. A lot of people don’t know that our men’s soccer team won its conference championship last year and went to the NCAA tournament, where they beat Princeton University in the first round.
Homecoming at UMBC is a chance to celebrate our academic and our athletic successes. That’s Homecoming to me.