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Advancing the University

A $1 billion fundraising campaign will secure Case Western Reserve’s preeminence in research and education

By Brian Thornton (CWR ’97, GRS ’99)

Published in fall 2011

Dean Cyrus Taylor announced a transformative gift to the College of Arts and Sciences during Alumni Weekend in October. The dean spoke to a crowd at Horsburgh Gymnasium, below a projected image celebrating the $20 million commitment to fund strategic priorities in the natural sciences.

Dean Cyrus Taylor announced a transformative gift to the College of Arts and Sciences during Alumni Weekend in October. The dean spoke to a crowd at Horsburgh Gymnasium, below a projected image celebrating the $20 million commitment to fund strategic priorities in the natural sciences.

On the fall evening when President Barbara R. Snyder launched Forward Thinking: The Campaign for Case Western Reserve University, she invited Dean Cyrus C. Taylor to announce a transformational endowment gift to the College of Arts and Sciences: a $20 million commitment to its natural sciences programs.

The dean made the announcement to a crowd of students, alumni and friends of the university who had gathered at Horsburgh Gymnasium during Alumni Weekend. The ceremony marked the official beginning of a $1 billion fundraising initiative—the university’s first large-scale campaign since 1994.

The college’s benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a graduate of the science programs of Case Institute of Technology, Taylor said. The purpose of the endowment is to give the College of Arts and Sciences the resources required to invest in strategic priorities in the natural sciences: world-class faculty, state-of-the-art laboratories, innovative research ideas and more.

“This benefactor remains engaged by the breakthroughs of the college’s faculty and the opportunities their work creates for our students,” Taylor said. “He chose to make this pledge because he wanted to do something to advance the university where small classes allowed him to interact regularly with faculty and come to know them well. It is his profound hope that such an environment will continue and that the broader community will also benefit.”

In a subsequent email to the college’s alumni, Taylor noted that the endowment “will give our science programs the dexterity to rapidly move into emerging and promising fields of study and further our reputation as one of the world’s leading research institutions.”

Well on the Way

The college’s goal for its portion of the Forward Thinking campaign is $170 million. As of November 1, alumni, friends, corporations and foundations had already committed more than $115 million. This sum includes private support at all levels, from $50 Annual Fund gifts to multi-million-dollar capital contributions, and will provide needed resources in four key areas:

Student Support. New scholarships and graduate fellowships will allow the college to compete for the most promising talent and create opportunities for students who could not otherwise afford to attend Case Western Reserve.

Faculty Support. Startup funding and the establishment of additional endowed chairs will enable the college to attract and retain eminent scholars and researchers.

Academic Programs. New lines of funding will support the creation of new cross-disciplinary initiatives that will expand educational and research opportunities and bring greater international distinction to the college.

Capital Projects. New and renovated labs, performance venues, classrooms and collaborative spaces will give faculty and students the tools needed for a 21st-century education.

“These four focus areas align directly with the college’s immediate and long-term plans to further strengthen our already prestigious programs in humanities, sciences, arts and social sciences,” Taylor says. “The success of those plans is intimately tied to the success of the campaign.”

Gifts Both Large and Small

Dan Lease (ADL ’71) was present as Dean Taylor announced the college’s largest gift to date. He and wife Jacqué (FSM ’71) are among the many generous donors who have set the college on course to achieve its Forward Thinking goal.

The couple, who met as undergraduates, recognize that gifts both large and small are essential to the college’s success. They’ve been making Annual Fund contributions for more than 30 years, and in 1998 significantly increased their yearly giving to make a profound difference in students’ lives through scholarships.

“I think it’s important that everyone go to college,” Dan says. “A public university education is good, but the experience is different at a private university. By underwriting some of the costs, we can offer that opportunity to a student who wouldn’t have thought about coming here.”

The Forward Thinking campaign prompted the Leases to consider an endowment gift that will yield resources for the college in perpetuity.

“I thought, ‘I would just as soon make a larger gift,’ and we decided $150,000 would guarantee the university a substantial yearly sum,” Dan says. “If things go well, we can add to it. But for now, it’s a start.”

After attending the October campaign launch, Dan was inspired to encourage other friends to contribute as best they can.

“People see gifts of that size and say, ‘What can I do?’” he says. “But it’s important that people try to give at any level. If someone only can give $500, enough of those add up—together, you can endow a chair.”

A Powerful Connection

stan-barbara-meisel_editedIn fall 2010, when Case Western Reserve and The Temple – Tifereth Israel announced plans to create the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center, Stanley and Barbara Meisel knew they wanted to become involved. They have been members of the congregation for decades, and also feel a powerful connection to the performing arts.

“I was born into the Cleveland Play House,” Barbara says. She was a member of the Curtain Pullers, the youth theater program that incubated the early careers of such film stars as Joel Grey and Margaret Hamilton. “My father used to take me down on Saturday mornings; they had a public class, a dollar a time.”

Barbara continued to immerse herself in the arts, going on to a career as a radio actress on the Cavalcade of America anthology series. And although Stan devoted much of his energy to founding several successful Northeast Ohio businesses, he has always shared his wife’s commitment to strengthening the arts in Greater Cleveland.

At The Temple – Tifereth Israel, the Meisels were organizers of the Mr. and Mrs. Club, a social group where young husbands and wives performed shows. At the Cleveland Play House, Barbara was president of the Women’s Committee, while Stan served as president of the Play House Club and as treasurer of the Board of Trustees. The Play House has also named him an honorary director for life

Philanthropy is second nature to the couple; they are longtime supporters of the Cleveland Play House, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and the Cleveland School of the Arts, in addition to many other cultural and human service organizations. For 20 years, they’ve been donors to the college’s Friends of Eldred Theater, in recent years making significant gifts in support of the renowned Master of Fine Arts acting program.

The Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center was a perfect extension of their ongoing contributions. Stan and Barbara’s unrestricted gift will help raise the college’s music, dance and theater programs to new levels of achievement. At the same time, it will help begin a new era for the Temple building, which family members call a “gem.”

“It’s a grand and historically significant building, and this project will enable many more people to experience its beauty,” Stan says. Barbara adds: “This restoration will only add to the brightness of its flame.”

For more information or to start a Forward Thinking conversation, email or call 800.360.5308.

Page last modified: February 9, 2017