Berry Launches $100 Million LifeReady Campaign

Release Date: May 17, 2014

Berry College celebrated the public launch of an ambitious $100 million fundraising campaign Saturday night with news that commitments of more than $70 million have already been secured.   

The priorities of “LifeReady: The Berry College Campaign for Opportunity” build on the college’s historic strengths of uniting challenging academics with character-enhancing work and service experiences, as well as Berry’s growing stature as one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges.   

Campaign projects, many of which target the issues of cost, relevancy and access surrounding higher education today, are focused in three strategic areas:

  • Expand opportunities for students to invest in their own success, including scholarships that make it possible for students to work their way to graduating debt free
  • Develop leaders and entrepreneurs with character and compassion, poised with strong work ethics and skills
  • Create places and spaces that spur student achievement in the arts, sciences and student life

Together these projects are meant to further Berry’s ability to produce graduates who are ready, willing and able to improve their homes, work places and communities.  

“We are immensely proud of the Berry that exists today, yet we envision still a better Berry in the years ahead,” said President Steve Briggs. “It has been said that a Berry education is timeless in approach, time-tested in results and timely in meeting the needs of society today. The improved Berry we envision involves not a change in course, but innovative progress in the same direction.”   

In the four years leading up to Saturday’s official kickoff in Atlanta, alumni and friends jumpstarted the campaign by funding the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship Program, an initiative that makes it possible for students to work their way to graduating debt free. Spurred by a $10 million challenge grant from an anonymous friend, those efforts resulted in a total of $24 million in gifts and pledges, enough to eventually fund 130 of these special scholarships each year.  

“With the assistance of early partners, we have already increased access to a Berry education,” said D. Randolph Berry, co-chair of the Campaign Steering Committee and great-nephew of college founder Martha Berry. “With additional support, we will extend access to life-building firsthand learning experiences for all students.”  

In addition to scholarships, campaign priorities include mentoring programs aimed at helping students identify and capitalize on work, service, leadership and other opportunities available to them on and off Berry’s campus, as well as new centers for entrepreneurship and integrity in leadership. Capital projects include expanded facilities for Berry’s growing number of animal science majors and renovation of two historic structures that will provide first-class performance venues for theatre and music.   

A campus welcome center is also planned, along with a previously announced athletic stadium for football, lacrosse, and track and field.  

The new animal science facilities will provide much-needed teaching and research space for a program that is now Berry’s largest major. Included is an addition to the McAllister Hall science building and construction of field research laboratories near the existing Rollins Ruminant Research Center and Gunby Equine Center.   

These structures will provide expanded opportunities for undergraduate student research – a unique aspect of the Berry experience that sets graduates apart when applying to veterinary school or other graduate programs or beginning a career.  

Two historic structures – Blackstone Hall and Ford Auditorium – will receive major facelifts. Blackstone Hall, the first permanent brick building on Berry’s campus, was erected in 1915 and has served as home to the theatre program since 1982. Renovations and an addition include a new theatre, acting and design-studio classrooms, scene and costume shops, and other facilities.     

Ford Auditorium is located in the iconic Ford Buildings – gifts from Henry and Clara Ford in the 1920s and 1930s. This English Gothic classic will be transformed into a modern recital hall with enlarged stage, enhanced acoustics, new seating and new performance-quality sound and lighting.  

Speakers at Saturday’s kickoff included Barry Griswell, co-chair of the Campaign Steering Committee and retired chairman and CEO of Principal Financial Group. As an Atlanta native and 1971 graduate, he knows well the value of a Berry education.  

“Opportunity long has been Berry’s pledge to hardworking students,” Griswell said. “The experience of a Berry education has changed my own life and others, while the character of a Berry education has changed communities for the better. We want to continue this important work.”   

For more information on campaign priorities, projects and objectives, visit www.berry.edu/LifeReady.