Unity College collects $200,000 gift

Unsolicited donation could lead to new pledges promoting America’s Environmental College

UNITY, Maine – An anonymous donor has offered a lump-sum gift of $200,000 to tell the story of Unity College, and is exhorting others to help steer the school into its next half-century.

The college, celebrating its 50th year, recently collected the pledge from a person long familiar with Unity College who asked officials to use the money for market research. The donor wanted to ensure the college remained innovative with its curriculum, strengthened its connection with emerging careers in “green” fields, and formed connections with students on a national level letting them know about the value of a Unity education built on Sustainability Science. The donor wanted to invest in this initiative which will include advertising, branding and marketing

“This anonymous, unsolicited gift from someone who’s been watching the college for a while gives us great confidence we’re heading in the right direction training the next generation of environmental leaders as America’s Environmental College,” Unity College President Dr. Stephen Mulkey said. “It’s a gift we intend to use in such a way that it keeps on giving.”

Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said the money will fund a multi-year initiative to extend the brand of Unity College nationally, reaching students across the country who are interested in environmental careers but who may not have heard about Unity, which currently enrolls 650 students on its 225-acre campus in central Maine.

At a time when small, independent rural colleges are seen as vulnerable in the world of higher education, Khoury noted Unity has exceeded its enrollment goals the past two academic years while adding 44,000 square feet of new research, recreation and residence hall space.

“We’ve had conversations with this person on a long-term basis, and this person mentioned, ‘I like what you’re doing with recent improvements and want to help’,”  Khoury said. “We are so grateful for that vote of confidence, and we promised the donor we would use the gift as a seed, planted to give fruition to other measures.”

Director of Development and Alumni Relations Julie Briggs Cunningham said the gift was one of the largest obtained during her tenure and one of the top five the school has ever received.

Unity College received a $10 million unrestricted gift for its endowment in 2011, the largest gift ever, and in the last 2 years has collected a gift of Half Moon Gardens and McKay Agricultural Station, valued at $1.2 million; and a $200,000 anonymous donation last year.

“What’s striking about these gifts is they are largely coming unsolicited from local people who are very familiar with our history and our work,” Cunningham said. “And they obviously like what they see or they wouldn’t be investing.”

The donor said the gift was unrestricted, but challenged like-minded friends of the college to match it or exceed it. “In order for us to be able to honor this gift, and to validate it, we will look to raise another $400,000 for the initiative, and the institution will commit its own resources.  We are naming the challenge Project Connect because of the nature of gift,” Cunningham said.

“Donating to Unity College helps us tell our unique story, and helps us build the beacon of hope that comes with teaching sustainability science to students who are going to be applying it in this, the Environmental Century,” Mulkey, the college president, said.

If you accept the challenge and would like to make a gift to the college that supports this new initiative, please visit http://unity.edu/connect. Your support will help connect the college with valuable marketing research showing emerging green careers, connect the faculty with new research and opportunities to see what is cutting edge in the marketplace, connect students with Unity, and ultimately connect the next generation of environmental leaders with careers that match their skills and passions.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about the gift or the challenge, contact Khoury at (207) 509-7144.

About Unity College
Unity College proudly celebrates its 50th year in 2015. The first institution of higher education in the nation to divest from fossil fuel investments, Unity is committed to educating the next generation of environmental professionals. Sustainability science lies at the heart of its educational mission, with 16 environmentally focused undergraduate majors. For more information, visit unity.edu.

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