Major fundraising effort will boost scholarships, programs and buildings.

When Jennifer Velez was a freshman at Drew, she recalled leaving her trailer park home in Moonachie, N.J., for Drew’s elegant campus, an experience she called, “transformational.”

Velez, now the state commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Human Services, said her years at Drew sparked her interest in government, instilled in her a love of travel and taught her the values of networking. “This beautiful university in the forest, to me, was simply spectacular,” she said.

A pianist plays for the hundreds of people who attended the campaign dinner.
Pianist Brianna Donofrio ’17 plays for the hundreds of people who attended the campaign dinner.

Velez ’87, spoke at the kick-off of Drew’s One And All campaign during Alumni Reunion weekend held May 30-31. She was one of several speakers to talk about what Drew means to them and how important it is to invest in the university to ensure its future success.

Drew’s campaign is the first major fundraising effort in more than a decade, with a goal of raising $80 million to maintain its status as a cutting-edge university.

Funds raised will be used in a variety of areas—for additional student scholarships and internships, new academic programs and initiatives, and to upgrade and renovate campus buildings. Money raised will also support faculty and the annual fund.

Trustee Bill Freeman ’74, campaign chair, told alumni he wants to see Drew go from being a “hidden gem” to the Hope Diamond of higher education.

Some of the projects highlighted included launching additional New York City semester programs, supporting the Master of Arts in Teaching program, completing a renovation of the Hall of Sciences and upgrading athletics facilities.

“A top priority of One And All is the creation of new scholarships,” said Vivian A. Bull, Drew’s outgoing president. “The average Drew student graduates with less debt than students at schools such as Rutgers and The College of New Jersey, and this campaign will help Drew maintain and deepen its competitive edge.”

Khemani Gibson ’14 said he was grateful for the financial aid that enabled him to attend Drew. He became co-chair of the Pan-African student organization, studied Spanish in the Dominican Republic, spent three weeks in South Africa with Drew faculty and brought his experience as a community organizer to his hometown of Orange, N.J.

“Drew has prepared me to take on the world and the issues I want to resolve,” he told alumni. Gibson is heading to New York University in the fall to enroll in a PhD program in history.

Incoming Drew President MaryAnn Baenninger reminded those gathered that it will take many people to make this effort successful. She compared it to musicians coming together to perform a symphony. “Performing a symphony requires that all of us—alumni, faculty, students, staff, donors and friends—come together as one,” she said.—Elizabeth Moore

Learn more about One And All: The Campaign for Drew;  view the Campaign for Drew Dinner presentations, and check out photos from Reunion weekend.

Also, help us reach our goal and participate in our 99 days challenge!