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2010 Spring Issue 7 (May 21, 2010)

Board meets Weitz family challenge

May 21, 2010
By Libby Isenstein

Just months ago, the family of Wally (’70), Barbara (’70), Katie (’96), Roger (’99), and Drew (’02) Weitz and their spouses Watie White (’93), Kate, and Meredith (’02) generously pledged $15 million towards the building of the new Arts Union. This gift, however, came with a challenge. The Weitz Family Foundation promised $15 million to the new arts facility, on the condition that the members of the Board contribute $85 million collectively, including the family’s initial $10 million gift that launched the Breaking Barriers, Creating Connections campaign in May of 2007. Carleton President Robert A. Oden Jr. has called the project “the most ambitious campaign in the College’s history,” stating also that the campaign “will make firmer Carleton’s place among the preeminent colleges teaching tomorrow’s leaders and preparing people to live worthwhile lives.”

On May 15, Carleton College announced that the Carleton Board of Trustees had successfully met the Weitz family’s challenge with a collective $100 million, exceeding the conditions of the challenge by $15 million. The Breaking Barriers, Creating Connections campaign, scheduled to finish in June has raised a total of $287.5 million to date, and is closer than ever before to reaching their stated goal of $300 million.

The Weitz Family is the largest single family donor in Carleton’s history, with their comprehensive gift of $25 million. “We wanted to do something to help trustee-giving reach the $100 million mark,” said Wally on behalf of the Weitz Family Foundation.  “As much as the $10 million of our initial pledge sounds like a lot, we realized if we were going to ask others to stretch in their giving, we needed to stretch as well, and in doing it, wanted to give the College a creative tool to use in inspiring others.”

The Arts Union will be located at the site of the old Northfield Middle School. Construction is expected to begin as soon as the fall of 2010. The new facility will house the departments of Theater and Dance, Cinema and Media Studies, as well as a new art gallery, dramatic theater, cinema theater, dance studios, audio recording studio, art studios, faculty offices, classrooms, conference rooms, and a coffee shop.

“It will require many years and multiple occasions for us properly to thank the Weitz family for their inspiring support for Carleton and especially for enabling us to move forward swiftly to construct the Arts Union,” President Oden said.

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