After first year, LA campaign raises $2.8M

by Lily Rugo / Beacon Correspondent • September 24, 2014

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LA Campus
Courtesy of Iwan Baan
LA Campus
Courtesy of Iwan Baan

The three-year capital campaign for Emerson Los Angeles began its second year with nearly $3 million of the desired $20 million, said Patrick Smith, director of development for the LA program. 

As of Emerson’s last fiscal year, which ended June 30, the college had raised $2,849,814, according to Smith, who could not provide a more recent figure. 

“The $20 million campaign is a meant to pay down debt,” he said. “But most importantly it can be used to support current programs and new programs that Emerson wants to enlist.”

Emerson welcomed the first round of students to its state-of-the-art building on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard in January. Construction of the $85 million project — which includes dormitory and classroom space — started in March 2012 after almost a decade of planning. 

Sophomore visual and media arts major Jackie Chang said she is concerned about the school meeting the three year goal.

“They have to pay off the debt, so they have to make it,” Chang said. “I don’t want to be like Debbie Downer, but I feel like it might be a little bit hard just because it’s $20 million and they’re still a bit far away from there. I hope they can make it.”

The campaign — called “The Future Has Your Name on It!” — saw prompt donations from notable alumni when it began last July. Vin Di Bona, a class of 1966 alumnus who created and was executive producer of America’s Funniest Home Videos, is the chair of the campaign, and gave the first gift of $1 million. 

Norman Lear, a class of 1944 graduate and a writer and producer for sitcoms like Sanford and Son, All in the Family, and The Jeffersons, donated as well and became the Honorary Campaign Chair.

While last year the campaign featured events like an opening gala to draw attention to the fundraiser, Smith said this isn’t the most effective method. 

“A lot of people think when you do fundraising campaigns like this it’s fun to do the glitzy events, like the gala,” Smith said. “But that doesn’t raise a lot of money.” 

This year, Smith said he will focus on alumni donors who give $10,000 or more to have spaces on campus named after them. Currently, 41 spaces at the LA center like offices, residence halls, multi-purpose rooms, computer labs, and dressing rooms are named after donors. Smith said the fundraiser will target parents, friends of the college, and alumni donors. 

Smith said there is currently a significant focus on those who can give $100,000 or more, but near the end of this year, the campaign will shift its attention to donors who want to give less than $10,000. 

“We’re building a culture of philanthropy here with our alumni,” Smith said. “So it’s an all-inclusive fundraising campaign over the whole three years.”