Three-year push, which aims to raise $28 million, focuses on five areas of funding need

Norwich has thrived through 200 years of nation-shaking challenges — war, recession, political upheaval. A campus that teaches and talks behind face masks knows a fresh challenge has arrived.

To weather it, Norwich will stand physically distanced but close spiritually, and university development officials hope, fiscally. Shoulder-to-Shoulder, a three-year $28 million fundraising initiative, aims to help Norwich keep thriving.

During the recent virtual Homecoming celebration, part of which was broadcast on NUTV on the Alumni and Family Relations Office’s web and Facebook pages, Vice President of Development Liz Kennedy said she and her colleagues had expected to be basking in previous success.

“We’re going to make sure we’re ready to weather this storm.” Liz Kennedy, vice president of development, Norwich University

The Forging the Future campaign, a five-year program that ended Dec. 31, smashed its $100 million goal, raised $121 million and earned an Educational Fundraising Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. About 8,422 donors contributed to Forging the Future, which was dedicated to enhancing the academic program. Campaign money helped renovate and add buildings all over campus, supported scholarships and boosted the university’s endowment. 

But the pandemic created a new hurdle.

“We’re going to make sure we’re ready to weather this storm,” Kennedy said.

To do so, she said, Norwich will use Shoulder-to-Shoulder to focus on maintaining a strong Norwich Fund, a cash cache serving any university need, and staying academically competitive. Norwich wants to continue drawing top-flight students and transform them into strong, savvy future leaders.

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Norwich University electrical engineering major and Corps of Cadets member Caleigh Travers examines lab equipment in a video promoting the Shoulder-the-Shoulder fundraising initiative. (Photo from video by Ronny DiMasi.)

“Norwich University has never been more closely aligned, strategically, emotionally and passionately than we are right now,” Norwich President Mark C. Anarumo said in a Shoulder-to-Shoulder video unveiled at Homecoming.

Kennedy said Shoulder-to-Shoulder gifts, devoted to the Norwich Fund, scholarships, technology endowment, academic enhancement and planned giving, will help the university stay flexible and affordable.

The Norwich Fund, which supports core operations and strategic priorities, is particularly relevant now, Kennedy said, because it also lets the university respond to urgent needs and unforeseeable events, like the pandemic.

At Friday’s Board of Fellows meeting, Anarumo said the fund has helped the university administer more than 9,000 COVID-19 tests for students, faculty and staff since August.

Kennedy said, “We had not budgeted for COVID because who knew COVID was coming. That’s where the Norwich Fund comes in. That’s where we can say, ‘We need to designate money here, OK we have it.’”

Pursuing goals

On the Shoulder-to-Shoulder video, junior international studies major Angeline Gonzalez and senior neuroscience major Shawnae Evans said scholarships helped them pursue their academic goals.

Assistant Commandant William Passalacqua said, “That’s the value of scholarships — keeping students here, helping them graduate. In some cases, making Norwich the school they want to come to.”

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Money from the Norwich Fund helped fund the 9,000 COVID-19 tests the university has administered since August. (Photo by Mark Collier.)

Meanwhile, senior Caleigh Travers, a cadet and electrical engineering major who is also on the women’s basketball team, said planned giving, including a $3 million bequest from Professor Emeritus Don Wallace, who died in 2018, helped the university get the resources that enabled her studies.

“The labs and the equipment we have allowed me to have a variety of experiences,” she said. “The network we have through the school and people who continually want to give back, who already had their time here, is really important.”

Gifts made over Homecoming weekend honored President Emeritus Richard W. Schneider, who led the university for 28 years and who famously said, “Vision without resources is hallucination.”

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