Bob Dole to Chair Bennett College Fund-Raising CampaignGREENSBORO, N.C.
Former U.S. Sen. Robert J. Dole and the historically Black women’s college Bennett might appear to be an unlikely pair. Yet, the two have joined forces recently for an ambitious fund-raising endeavor.
The former presidential candidate will serve as chairman of the school’s $50 million “Revitalizing Bennett Campaign,” in hopes of recruiting a prestigious committee of leaders from the corporate, academic and philanthropic sectors to raise funds for student scholarships, faculty recruitment and development, and deferred physical plant needs. Dole and Bennett College president Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole announced the campaign last month during a press conference in Washington.
“Bennett College for Women is part of the historical landscape of this country and has been a vital source for educating women of color since 1926,” Dole said in a statement from the school. “My wife, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, is vitally interested in the well-being of Bennett College and all of the HBCUs in the state of North Carolina and throughout the nation. We have been extremely heartened by the outpouring of support that Bennett has received over the past 12 months. I look forward to working with my fellow campaign committee members in helping Bennett complete its transformation and recapture its vibrancy and competitive edge.”
A little over a year ago, Bennett’s future looked rather bleak, facing a $2 million deficit, dropping enrollment, accreditation and leadership woes, as well as buildings in need of extensive repair. Yet, the school’s outlook turned bright after Cole announced she would come out of retirement to lead the school, declaring: “It’s a new day at Bennett College” (see Black Issues, May 23, 2002). Cole was the first African American woman to serve as president of Spelman College in Atlanta, the nation’s only other historically Black women’s college. At Spelman, she made history by leading a fund-raising campaign that generated more than $113 million.
Over the past 12 months, Cole has spearheaded an aggressive outreach effort to North Carolina residents and organizations and has secured the support of local churches, civic groups and businesses, trustees, alumnae and others across the nation to meet longstanding infrastructure and program needs. As of May 2003, more than $9.1 million had been raised in major gifts, grants and pledges, with more than $1 million of those funds contributed by Bennett alumnae.
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