State’s largest fundraising campaign nears end

Jordan Smith


New improvements are constantly springing up around campus, and It Starts with State is no exception.

The It Starts with State campaign is a six-year fundraising campaign that began in January 2008 and will end in December 2012.

Steve Erpenbach, president and CEO of the SDSU Foundation, said that the campaign has raised just over $205 million, exceeding the $200 million goal. He also said that since the  campaign began, more than 21,000 donors have contributed to the campaign.


“I am thrilled,” Erpenbach said. “It is the largest fundraising campaign in South Dakota history and four times larger than the previous SDSU campaign. Be it a business, foundation or an      individual, the 21,000 donors show the depth of loyalty and love for SDSU.”

Mike Barber, the development director for the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, said that part of his job is to advance the priorities set by the dean of the college and use funding  appropriated to the College of Ag and Bio to develop those priorities.

“The campaign is a support project,” Barber said. “Donors give to specific projects and things needing funds around the university.”

According to the SDSU Foundation’s website, the donation options are divided into five categories: strengthening faculty, opportunities for students, stately surroundings, athletics and funds  for excellence. For donor-specific projects, the foundation receives the money while the campus gets the funds and makes the final decisions on where the money goes.

Faculty support donations go to projects such as faculty research. Scholarships go to students from the $1000 Jackrabbit Guarantee to much higher-end scholarships. “Stately surroundings,” which is also the category that has received the most funds, donates to updating the facilities, including projects such as the McCrory Gardens Visitor Center.

Athletics donations go to general support for athletics, and funds for excellence go to other organizations on campus, from the Pride to museums and many other things, according to Erpenbach.

“Watching the dorms go up makes me really excited to see them and possibly even stay in them next year,” said Ashlee Harrowa, a freshman biology and pre-med major from Rapid City. “Even though it’s just housing, it still really draws more positive attention to SDSU.  Being a college student coming from a single-parent household with not a lot of financial help, the scholarship money being raised also really caught my attention as that means I will have less loans to pay off and am still able to receive the best education SDSU has to offer.”

According to Barber, the money received by the foundation goes to all things needing funding around the University—from scholarships to endowments to facilities and athletics.

“[Raising over $200 million] is a milestone and it speaks volumes about the belief in South Dakota State,” Barber said. “It is an amount that has never been matched at any other institution in South Dakota.”

Erpenbach said the SDSU Foundation will continue to fundraise when the campaign is over.

“We need time to set new priorities, so there will be a time gap to do so between campaigns,” he said. “The next campaign time is still to be decided. For now we just want to finish this campaign strong.”

The funds raised by the It Starts With State campaign will likely contribute to SDSU’s growth for several years.

“The growth of campus is supported greatly by private donors,” Erpenbach said. “It is a great response by the public and shows the support and generosity of the donors.”

That support has already been used to help improve the opportunities available to students on campus.

“We are very grateful to the participants,” Barber said. “Regardless of amounts given, all gifts add up to a successful campaign that could not be done without the donors. Every gift is greatly appreciated.”