Campaign co-chairmen Larry Babbio ’66 and Sean Hanlon ’80 and President Nariman Farvardin recently shared their thoughts on the historic Power of Stevens campaign.
Q: Why is now the right time for Stevens to launch a campaign?
LB: For a school to launch a successful campaign, you have to have a few things that are going in the right direction. First, the school needs be in a strong position. It needs to be improving from a number of standpoints, including incoming student applications, faculty research, student achievements or enrollment. We hired a new president almost five years ago now, and he’s done a great job of changing the trajectory of everything that’s gone on in the school. He’s done a great job of bringing a lot of alumni back into the fold. We’ve attracted many new faculty members to campus and, most importantly, our reputation, from almost every outside organization that rates schools, has gone up. Second, I think that you need the right external environment. The markets look better. So it’s an area where we can go out and now ask people to make that contribution. And third, we’re in a situation where people can understand the vision of where we want to go, with a well thought-out strategic plan that has been under implementation for about four years, and showing results. People can see new buildings being proposed, new activities coming on campus, and they can now see that we have a good foundation, and we have a great future in front of us.
Q: The goal of this campaign is to raise $150 million. Can you tell us what achieving this goal will mean for Stevens?
NF: This campaign is essentially targeting three broad areas that, in my opinion, form the foundation for any outstanding institution of higher education. 1. Support to provide access for talented students in the form of scholarships, fellowships and a variety of student aid; 2. Support to enable the university to recruit, nurture and retain the most talented faculty members that you could find anywhere on the face of the planet; 3. Support to build a first-rate physical and services infrastructure. If we can secure the support to bring in the best students, the best faculty members, and build the best facilities, we can accelerate our progress toward achieving the lofty goals of our strategic plan.
Q: Why should alumni and other donors support this campaign?
SH: I think that our alumni have a responsibility and an honor. To me, it’s an honor to be a contributor to Stevens. I am in an industry — investments and finance — that has served my wife and me very well over the last 33 years. And now Stevens is in that (business and finance education) space. So it’s wonderful that we have an opportunity, and we certainly ask others to give great consideration to thinking about their industry and how well it has served them and their family, and to give back to Stevens, looking for opportunities in your industry. I think there’s wide opportunity for all Stevens alumni to find something they like, whether it be supporting faculty, supporting scholarships or supporting the facilities on this jewel of a property.
NF: We have many generations of young men and women who came to Stevens, received a high quality education, graduated and embarked on a successful career trajectory. They became exceedingly successful, and I think that as a result of the collective successes of these generations of alumni, our country and our world is a better place. I think that many of these alumni would feel very good if they supported their alma mater in order to ensure that there will be many future generations of people like themselves so that our country and the rest of the world will continue to become a better place.
Q: Why is it important to give to the campaign beyond one’s annual donation?
LB: To me, the annual donations that people give are necessary because they support the annual operating budget of the school and help to control the increases in tuition. But the campaign helps us reach new levels and move toward the long-term vision and goals of the school, which are significant increases in students, accompanied by increases in faculty, infrastructure and scholarships.
Q: What does “The Power of Stevens” mean to you?
NF: I joined the university five years ago, and there was one clear, distinct reason for me to join Stevens, and that was that I saw a tremendous amount of unrealized potential that this university offered. And I thought by joining the university, serving at the helm of the institution, and mobilizing the forces, we would be able to bring out some of this potential. Over the past five years, we have all witnessed a tremendous amount of progress at Stevens on many fronts. However, after all this progress, I see at least as much unrealized potential today as I thought the university had five years ago. So to me, the power of Stevens is the ability to unleash the incredible, unrealized potential that remains.
SH: I also like to think about the power of Stevens at the individual level, down to the individual person. I really believe that the education I earned at Stevens is unsurpassed by any education available to students in my day, in Larry’s day, today and in the future. It’s the rigorous curriculum, it’s the high standards that we impose on our students, and I think it equips the student with a pride. So the power of Stevens is the education, the pride and the camaraderie that we all feel for each other because we earned a great education while at Stevens.
LB: What the administration and faculty do at Stevens is they educate exceptional students and create a very powerful group of alumni, so that when those students leave Stevens they are equipped to exert a significant amount of power and influence. They can go out in the world and with that education make changes that ripple through society in general, benefitting a broad swath of people. That’s what I appreciate most, seeing the results out there in real life.
Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
LB: At every age, you have the capability to do something for the schools and universities that did something for you. So whether you contribute a little while you are young and just getting started or a lot when you are more established, it is all important to growing that next generation of exceptional students. You have the ability to recognize what Stevens did for you by doing something for the next life cycle of students that comes through Stevens. So I urge you to contribute now.
SH: Stevens’ rankings are so impressively near the very top of the lists alongside so many of the most well-known and prestigious universities nationally and in the world, yet Stevens is still one of the smallest universities. Donors to Stevens have a huge opportunity to see their gifts be recognized at such a high level; the leverage for a donor is incredible. Donors can have a considerable impact at such a high-ranking level. Your gifts here — any gift that you can afford to give — can really be impactful.
NF: It is my personal, sincere hope that this campaign not only enables us to achieve the goal we have, but also that it becomes an opportunity to expand the university’s relationship with her alumni, with corporations and foundations, in such a way that we can enhance the reputation and prestige of the institution. We want to put the university in such good shape so that it can continue to move forward for many decades. And I’m hoping that this campaign will become the starting point for that era.