Sitting in the balcony of U of R’s Memorial Chapel, surrounded by alumni, parents, and current students, the lights dimmed, and a projector screen displays images of the city of Redlands in the 20th century, accompanied by a man’s voice detailing the little town’s history. Everything from it’s namesake, the red dirt, to the sheer amount of Baptists that originally inhabited this place was detailed, along with the explanation of the final decision to establish the University of Redlands.
The man’s voice fades to The Beach Boys’ classic song, be true to your school, while dancers, singers, cheerleaders and football players fill the chapel from all directions, bursting with enthusiasm for our institution. Students sitting all over begin standing to chant along to the Och Tamale. This is the musical presentation of Redlands’ new endorsement campaign to raise 200 million in endowment, aptly named, “Forever Yours.”
The university’s goal, as dictated on the website, an all school email sent by President Kuncl and in pamphlets distributed at the event, is to “preserve and enhance every significant aspect of the Redlands experience…ensuring that what we love about the university today will be here for all time.” This is why Redlands is seeking financial support and endowment from professors, alumni, parents, donors, and anyone willing to give. According to to Kuncl’s email, the university has been preparing for four years to launch this “comprehensive fundraising campaign.”
Throughout the musical experience, President Kuncl spoke about the importance of this campaign, and explained the five pillars in which it is composed: Scholarship Promise, Personalized Education, Experiential Learning, Global Perspectives and Educational Innovation. For each pillar, a student came to speak about how that specific aspect was present at the university, how it has impacted them thus far in their education and careers and why it matters that that specific pillar is maintained over the coming years. Intermingled with the speakers were musical numbers featuring faculty, students and adorable little Jeremy Modica, a passionate boy who has a legacy dating back generations at Redlands, who is looking forward to attending Redlands in about ten years.
The presentation reminded past and current students about what makes the university wonderful and worthwhile.
Current first-year student Savanna DeLongchamp spoke about how the university’s scholarship promise, and Redlands’ recognition of her hard work throughout high school, led to her being able to attend a private university that would otherwise be out of her family’s financial reach. She also described how attending Redlands will help her fulfill her dream of helping children with Autism learn how to communicate more effectively with the world around them.
Jake Funk, alumni of 2016 and student body president, is currently a second year law student at Stanford, shared how Redlands’ Personalized Education composed of devoted and caring professors helped him to realize his talents and abilities, and how their special interest in him helped him reach a goal he didn’t even realize he had. The quality of the professors here made his first, and usually most difficult, year of law school, manageable and extremely successful.
Blaz Guitierrez, a current lawyer advocating for farmers’ rights, and 2001 alumni, told his story of a May Term trip to Haiti that changed his life and how that experiential learning helped him discover his passion to help those who need and deserve support.
For the fourth pillar, Global Perspectives, Nida Karnani from the class of 2015 shared her experience at the University’s Salzburg campus, and how her time there taught her to learn, risk and embrace new cultures.
And finally, Jakob Larson, from the class of 2017, came to speak about Educational Innovation, and how he had been transformed here from being a football player, to an extremely passionate individual dedicated to sustaining and improving our environment as the manager of California’s largest land preservation system.
Each of their stories included emotional and logical appeal that emphasized the sincerity of our school’s mission. Combined with the musical numbers that burst with enthusiasm, and the appearance of influential individuals such as Rich Hunsaker, an alumnus who provides scholarships for exceptional students, Alice Mozley, the chair of this fundraising campaign and President Kuncl, this presentation could help secure funds to keep our university operating for years to come.
photos courtesy of reporter, Sarah Hall