Giving Spirit At Eckerd College In St. Petersburg Reaches New Highs

What do you do with a $25 million gift? Match it, of course. At least that's what one private college in Pinellas County just did.

After only four years, Eckerd College has successfully fulfilled the $25 million Collier Challenge. In May 2006, Miles Collier, board of trustees chairman for Eckerd College and managing partner of Naples-based Collier Enterprises, and his wife, Parker, gave $25 million to Eckerd College. This was the largest gift in the history of Eckerd College, a nationally acclaimed private liberal arts college in Florida. A member of Eckerd College's Board of Trustees since 1988, Collier served as chairman from 1992-1995, and regained his role as chairman in July 2000 and has been serving ever since.

The Collier Challenge matched all gifts and pledges of $25,000 or more to the priorities of "Many Experiences, One Spirit: The Campaign for Eckerd College," which includes the sciences, the arts, student life and the College's endowment. Since the campaign's launch more than $73 million has been raised and Eckerd is on track to reach its total goal of $80 million this year.

"With more than a year left in the Campaign, we are well-positioned to fulfill our campaign goal, and the generosity and foresight of the Colliers was an immensely important motivator," says Donald R. Eastman III, president at Eckerd College.

One of the campaign priorities is the $30 million Center for Molecular and Life Sciences building. The 51,000-square-feet building will house teaching and research laboratories. Groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for May 2011, with a completion date of August 2014.

Helmar Nielsen, Eckerd trustee, pledged a generous $500,000 to establish The Lloyd W. Chapin Faculty Development Program. After 31 years as Eckerd's dean of faculty and vice president for Academic Affairs, Chapin is retiring on June 30. Nielsen's pledge was doubled by the Collier Challenge to $1 million.

The Collier Challenge has proved to be successful as the number of $25,000 commitments by alumni and parents doubled in less than four years, and participation from Eckerd faculty and staff set records with 97 percent of faculty and 76 percent of staff making commitments.

Writer: Nancy Vaughn
Source: Donald R. Eastman III, Eckerd College
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