distinctlyDrake: Building on Success

In May 2011, I graduated from Drake University with two degrees and, like students everywhere, a fair amount of student loan debt. Several months later, I received my first appeal to contribute to The Drake Fund—the pool of donations our University uses to support student scholarships, University programs, and the school’s most immediate needs. At this time, my rent had just increased by $100 per month, I had just started paying for my own auto insurance, and my bank account was still hurting after a minor car accident two months earlier. I was in no position to make a financial gift to anyone.

Despite my financial situation, however, I didn’t mind that solicitation—but there were other recent graduates who were not as understanding. Many of my peers were irritated that the school in which they had invested so much over the years had reached out to them for money so soon after graduation. And as a recent grad myself with monthly student loan bills starting to arrive in my mailbox, I understand this.

To say that our generation has a complicated relationship with paying for college is an understatement. I think many of us feel like we’ve paid twice for our education—once when the tuition bills arrived and again when our student loan payments began.

The reality is that the tuition we pay is not a donation to Drake but a payment in exchange for a service received—our education. Our student loan payments do not support Drake; they’re going straight to the lender. And while it may seem to some as if they’ve already paid their dues to Drake, tuition costs don’t come close to covering what the University provides to students.

If Drake provided you with an exemplary education—if it provided you with the skills you need to survive after college or helped you find your passion or an internship or a job—there is a real cost associated with that. And those benefits you reaped will only become more expensive for future generations. Supporting your university through scholarships can provide financial support to the students who need it most, making it possible for more students to share the life-changing experience you had despite socioeconomic status or financial hardship.

Sometimes we feel that because we are young, we are somehow excused from giving back. Could you spare $5 or $10 each month? Consider giving that to Drake. Additionally, the gift of your time or your expertise is equally valuable—speak to a Drake class about your career, sit down for coffee with a current Drake student, hire a student as an intern. It’s easy to say, “I’ll support Drake when I have more money, more time—when I’m older.” But if you want to be the type of person who contributes your time and financial support to Drake, start being that person now, in any way you can—otherwise, you’ll always find obstacles or special circumstances to stand in your way.

Living in Des Moines, I’ve found plenty of ways to give to Drake: as a guest speaker, as a mentor for current students, as an advisory board member. And this spring I set up a monthly payment plan that allows me to give a little bit each month back to Drake. It’s not much, but when compounded with the gifts of other alumni, even small donations can make a difference. I’m so thankful for the alumni whose support made my own Drake experience possible, and I can think of no better way to show that gratitude than to pay it forward myself.

—Norah Carroll, JO’11, AS’11

Cline Atrium: It’s About Connections

With only a few students on campus, it still was a noisy summer for faculty in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. In June, the University broke ground on the construction of the Morgan E. Cline Atrium, which will join Cline Hall of Pharmacy and Health Sciences with Harvey Ingham Hall and connect hundreds of students to each other and to faculty for social learning opportunities and collaboration.

The atrium is made possible through the leadership and generosity of Morgan E. Cline and gifts from Hy-Vee and the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust. Scheduled for a move-in date of late January 2013, the atrium brings the vision for Drake’s science complex closer to reality.

Sussman Theater Better Serves Bulldogs

When Richard Sussman, LA’51, committed to giving a gift of $1 million to Drake University in honor of his late wife, Lila, he wanted to ensure that it had a direct impact on students and fostered leadership opportunities at the University.

Perhaps no other place on campus fit this requirement as well as the Bulldog Theater in Olmsted Center. The theater is regularly used by students in the Donald V. Adams Leadership Institute (DVALI), student organizations, and for presentations and lectures from both students and guest speakers. Additionally, this space often provides the first impression of Drake’s facilities for new and prospective students who visit campus at orientation and through a variety of programs hosted by the Office of Admission.

The space, built in the 1970s, had never been renovated. Its location next to the new students-only Underground Fitness facility provided a stark contrast that made the need for a facelift apparent.

“The way the Bulldog Theater looked and functioned did not really represent the University correctly,” says Paul Secord, director of development.

The newly renovated Lila and Richard Sussman Theater (formerly the Bulldog Theater), however, is more representative of Drake and reflects the University’s commitment to an exceptional learning environment.

Work on the space began in June. The theater was gutted and refitted with new seats and walls, updated with a state-of-the-art audiovisual system, and rewired with new electricity. Additionally, the bathrooms outside the theater were completely remodeled, and the lobby leading into the theater has been modernized, as well. All of this makes for a seamless transition into the modern student fitness center.

The project was completed in September.

In addition to renovating the theater, Sussman’s gift has also been used to create the Sussman Endowment for Leadership, which will support DVALI and create other leadership ventures and opportunities for students.

Sussman has also generously pledged $10,000 per year for the next five years to sponsor the fall and spring DVALI conferences, which have been renamed in his honor.

After Hours—At Cowles Library?

The venue may be conducive to socializing, but the new After Hours space in Cowles Library is designed for more than idle chitchat. The open floor plan, movable walls, collaboration stations, and portable whiteboards have a purpose: to support social learning strategies.

“The nature of students’ assignments is changing—there are more group projects and collaboration,” says Marc Davis, technology coordinator. “After Hours is a response to changing pedagogies.”

The renovated space is also a response to student feedback.

In 2008, when library staff initiated the creation of a new master plan, they wanted to ensure that the library continued to meet the needs of all campus constituents well into the future. They started the process by soliciting ideas from students, faculty, and staff.

“Students spoke loud and clear to us,” says Rod Henshaw, dean of Cowles Library and professor of librarianship. “Two needs immediately rose to the top: a group study space and a late-night study facility.”

Located on the library’s main level, After Hours incorporates another recent successful renovation: the Cowles Café, which serves coffee drinks and snacks and contributes to the space’s intentionally relaxed atmosphere.

“When students feel welcome and comfortable, they become more engaged in the learning process. This is how social learning environments are linked to academic success—they provide an environment that stimulates learning and promotes collaboration and learning from peers,” says Davis.

Funded by the Cowles and Kruidenier foundations, Drake University Board of Trustees member Mark Ernst, and University allocations, After Hours marks the first step toward realizing the vision for Cowles Library.

Plans for the library’s next phase of renovations, the Upper Commons Project, will start this academic year and involve many members of the campus community. The focus for phase two is engaged learning. Second-floor renovations will include classroom space and new technologies designed for structured learning activities and consultations with librarians.

The third floor (which includes the beloved Reading Room) will continue to be dedicated to individual, quiet study. This ensures that when completed, the library’s master plan will incorporate all learning modalities: social, structured, and solitary.

“The new projects are simply the physical manifestation of what [Cowles] Library has always done, which is to meet the changing needs of Drake students,” says Henshaw.

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