$51 million gift, largest in school history, highlights launch of “Powering Union” campaign

Publication Date

In a festive Memorial Fieldhouse bursting with Union pride, the College Friday formally launched the public phase of its $300 million “Powering Union: The Campaign for Multiple Tomorrows,” the largest and most ambitious capital campaign in the school’s 225-year history.

Celebrating the Power of Union Campaign

In the night’s most pivotal moment, the campaign got a major boost when President David R. Harris surprised the audience by announcing a $51 million gift from Class of 1980 graduates Rich and Mary Templeton. The gift, the largest ever for the College, will transform engineering and the liberal arts with the creation of the Templeton Institute for Engineering and Computer Science.

In addition to the new institute, the gift will be used in the recruitment and retention of women pursuing a degree in engineering or computer science, enhancements to the curriculum, faculty support, and capital to further develop spaces and facilities.

“Mary and Rich Templeton have led lives that exemplify our Strategic Plan,” Harris told a cheering crowd of hundreds of donors, alumni, students, staff and supporters.

“Our motto says, ‘under the laws of Minerva, we all become brothers and sisters,’” Harris said. “I like to tell alumni that they have over 2,200 brothers and sisters at Union. What would you do for a little brother or sister to help them find their way in the world?

“Mary and Rich have answered that call in many ways over the years and they do so now in an unprecedented way.”

Rich Templeton is chairman, president and CEO of Texas Instruments. He joined the company after earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Union. Mary (Haanen) Templeton, a philanthropist and community volunteer, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. She had a 14-year career with General Electric Company before moving to Dallas, the headquarters of Texas Instruments.

At Union, Mary and Rich met at the Rathskeller, the beloved social space in the basement of Old Chapel. Rich ran the place and Mary worked there. Rich was on campus last spring as part of a Fortune 500 CEOs forum featuring alumni. Friday’s gift announcement was Mary’s first trip back to campus in 39 years.

Mary and Rich Templeton

Mary and Rich Templeton

“Union is obviously very special to us and in retrospect it is the foundation upon which we started our lives and the foundation on which we raised our family,” said Mary Templeton. “We believe we can make a difference for Union by helping to strengthen liberal arts and engineering for generations to come.”

“The idea of liberal arts and engineering coming together makes sense and what’s really exciting is that Union is positioned to be best at this,” said Rich Templeton. “Mary and I are pleased to make a gift that touches so many things that are important to us. Now is a great time to be involved with Union and we’re just pleased to be able to do our part.”

The campaign focuses on four priorities that will shape the future of Union: ensuring access; propelling the liberal arts and engineering; developing students beyond the classroom; and The Union Fund.

“We all know how important the mission of the College is and how critical the support of our alumni and friends is in achieving our goals,” Harris said.

The College has raised $221 million in gifts and pledges during the leadership phase of the campaign, which began July 1, 2015. This includes 44 gifts or pledges of $1 million or more, nine of which topped $5 million.

Nearly 20,000 donors, including more than 11,000 alumni, have supported the campaign to date.

Trustees Kathryn Stefanik Barry ’01, David J. Breazzano '78 and Guy Logan ’90 are campaign co-chairs.

The campaign priorities align with the College’s latest strategic plan, “The Power of Union,” a sweeping document that will guide the school’s decision-making over the next five years.

The 17-page plan serves as a blueprint for the College to build upon its 225-year standing as an innovator in liberal education by “developing every student to lead with wisdom, empathy and courage, in ways large and small, now and across multiple tomorrows.”

Campaign priorities:

Ensuring Access ($65M)
• financial aid
• scholarships
• family grants
• Persistence Fund (emergency funds)
• student support for pre-orientation, study away and unpaid internships

Propelling the Liberal Arts and Engineering ($150M)
• New endowed professorships
• Center for Faculty Excellence, providing support for professional development, research, travel
• Academic programming
• Facility enhancements
• Technologies and instrumentation

Developing Students Beyond the Classroom ($30M)
• Immersive experiences, including the Center for Community Engagement, MakerSpace, study away programs and social innovation and entrepreneurship
• Co-curricular programming, including residential curriculum and first-year experience
• Supporting student success, including the Career Center, wellness services, and programs to support academic achievement (e.g. tutoring and accommodative services)

The Union Fund ($55M)

Robert Bertagna ’85, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, in urging support for the campaign, said, “There is no better way to invest my time, my talent and my treasure than by supporting Union College’s mission to provide a world-class liberal arts education for the next generation of leaders.”

Friday’s three-hour launch was an inclusive event that touched on all aspects of campus and community life. A number of student speakers shared their unique Union experience. Performances from a variety of student groups, including the Dance Team, the Black Student Union and the Union College Choir and Orchestra, entertained guests. In addition, academic exhibits highlighted the campaign’s priorities, and a “Taste of Schenectady” featured offerings from local restaurants.

Union’s previous campaign, “You are Union,” had a goal of $250 million. By the time it ended in December 2012, it had raised $258 million.

Earlier in the day, the College formally dedicated its Integrated Science and Engineering Complex.

“Today, faculty and students have the technology and the space to support their ideas and their interests,” said President Harris. “We are looking forward to what will happen in this space and the special moments we have created, both large and small, in the years to come.”

“With this building we enter a new stage in our evolution and development,” said Nicole Theodosiou, associate professor of biology and co-director of biochemistry. “We have removed walls to create flexible, collaborative suites where research mentoring and teaching can happen in overlapping spaces and students can have areas to call home in their own discipline.”

The $100 million project, the most ambitious and largest in the school’s history, is transforming the former Science and Engineering Center. Built during the late 1960s and dedicated in 1971, the center has been instrumental in educating generations of students in biology, chemistry, physics and astronomy, and computer, electrical and mechanical engineering.

The College broke ground on the complex in May 2017. The 142,000-square-foot space gives Union one of the finest undergraduate science and engineering facilities in the country.