October 20, 2001
Guests enjoying the gala celebration last night for the culmination of The Campaign for Rollins received an unexpected surprise when it was announced that philanthropist George Cornell had donated a capstone gift of $10 million. The gift brought the total for the five-year Campaign to $156.5 million - more than 50 percent over the $100 million goal set for the Campaign in 1996.
Completely surprised herself, Rollins President Rita Bornstein was clearly touched by the gift, which endows a Chair of Distinguished Leadership for the President. "Oh George, wow," said Rita Bornstein. "George is just full of surprises. I am just completely undone. This is a night I will never forget." From his seat nearby, Cornell flatly said "And now we're over $150 million!" Laughter and applause broke out, and Cornell received a standing ovation.
Perhaps best known for his family's namesake Cornell University, George Cornell was a 1935 graduate of Rollins College. Great philanthropists, he and his late wife, Harriet Wilkes Cornell, have made unprecedented leadership gifts over the years to the College. This is the second $10 million donation made by Cornell, the first made in 1999 was the single largest gift ever received by the College and established a scholarship fund at Rollins in memory of his late wife. That scholarship fund will grant Rollins students the education of their dreams for years to come. And the George D. and Harriet W. Cornell Fine Arts Center, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, two endowed Chairs in Classical Studies, Cornell Hall, and the Cornell Campus Center became the landmarks of the Cornells' transforming legacy at Rollins. A resident of Delray Beach, Cornell has been a Rollins College trustee for 20 years, received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Rollins in 1985, and was bestowed the Rollins Decoration of Honor in 2000 for his distinguished and eminent service to the College.
"George Cornell is a wise man, and he is as humble as he is generous," said Anne Kerr, Rollins' vice president for Institutional Advancement. "He gave this gift in recognition of Rita Bornstein's stellar leadership, and his $10 million gift is the first of its kind anywhere in the nation." The Cornell Chair of Distinguished Leadership for the President will provide for presidential housing, office operating costs, and a fund for the president to pursue special projects.
Launched on October 19, 1996, The Campaign For Rollins was a five-year comprehensive fund raising effort. The Campaign raised funds to build the endowment for student scholarships, faculty chairs, and academic programs; build and expand facilities; upgrade technology; and increase the College's base of operating support. The number of endowed professors' chairs more than doubled - from nine to 22 - since the launch of the Campaign. Its resulting building boom - the biggest since the 1960s - changed the face of the campus with a bookstore renovation, new campus center, new executive education center and a new sports complex, and a brand new campus gateway currently under construction. More than 15,000 donors provided 53,000 gifts throughout the Campaign including an extraordinary 43, $1-million gifts. Barbara Lawrence Alfond, a 1968 graduate of Rollins who now resides in Weston, Massachusetts, served as Chair of the Campaign.