Although the University has not received any major gift to fund Timothy Dwight College’s renovations, the project is still set to begin in less than one month.
The development office has raised only $3 million for TD, the fourth residential college to be renovated. Unlike the three colleges renovated before it, TD’s overhaul will be funded mostly through debt, and not through alumni generosity.
“I’d like to see a lead gift before groundbreaking,” Vice President for Development Charles Pagnam said. “There’s still a chance, but it’s less than 50-50.”
Raising money for residential college renovations is proving to be more difficult every year. One year before either project was underway, the Office of Development secured $20 million gifts from an alumnus of Berkeley and Branford colleges for each overhaul.
Yale did not have as easy of a time raising money for Saybrook College as it did for Berkeley and Branford. Only two months before Yale began working on Saybrook, Holcombe T. Green Jr. ’61 and Joshua Bekenstein ’80 donated $10 million to their former home. Green and Bekenstein established their gift as a matching challenge with the hopes of raising $20 million, but one year later Saybrook has received only $6 million from other donors.
But TD has proved to be the most difficult college to fund so far. The TD project, with includes revamping Rosenfeld Hall, also will be the most expensive college renovation so far. University officials estimate the entire project will cost more than $50 million.
Administrators said they will renovate TD on schedule, starting in May, and hope this lack of fund-raising success does not become a pattern.
“Some projects exceed your expectations. Others fall short,” Yale President Richard Levin said. “I am disappointed.”
He added that he has had many conversations with potential donors for TD and many of them decided to earmark their money for other University projects.
“There’s an attractive menu of alternatives,” Levin said.
Because Yale pledged to renovate one residential college every year — with a one-year exception for the renovation of Vanderbilt Hall following TD — officials said there is a belief among alumni that these projects will get done, even without their gifts.
“It’s difficult to get people to understand we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” Pagnam said.
Fund raising for Vanderbilt may prove even more difficult than for TD because development officials cannot turn to graduates of a particular college for donations. Officials said they hope to attract money from alumni particularly fond of Old Campus.
Levin said he has already started soliciting money for the next four colleges to be renovated — Pierson, Davenport, Silliman and Trumbull colleges. He said he already sees “strong potential support” for each of them.
Levin said the order in which Yale chooses to renovate these four colleges has not been decided and may depend on fund raising. He said he hopes this uncertainty may prove to be an incentive for donors to give significant gifts.