SPARTANBURG, S.C.– Converse College celebrated Founder’s Day April 19, 2001. And what a celebration it was. A new $75 million fundraising effort was unveiled, ground was broken for expansion of the Milliken Fine Arts Building, and the College’s highest honor-the Dexter Edgar Converse Award-was presented to an individual who has provided tireless energy and service to the College.
THE CAMPAIGN FOR CONVERSE: BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
This fundraising effort is the driving force in support of the College’s five-year campus master plan. “We are striving to be the college of choice for women in the South,” said Converse President Nancy Oliver Gray. “This means that our programs, facilities, and campus community must provide the best educational experience possible. The Campaign for Converse is our vehicle for realizing this goal.”
Converse announced that $62 million has been raised to date towards the $75 million goal. The campaign officially began in September of 1998 with The Johnson Challenge, an effort initiated by George Dean and Susu Phifer Johnson which generated more than $50 million in gifts and pledges in only nine months. Last fall, Bill and Valerie Barnet, longtime supporters of Converse College, announced a new challenge to help the college reach this $75 million goal. “It will take every alumna and friend of Converse working together for us to finish the job,” said Scott Rawles, Vice-President for Institutional Advancement. “We will meet this goal and surpass it!”
EXPANSION OF THE MILLIKEN FINE ARTS BUILDING
Alumnae and friends of Converse College used shovels to break ground for the Justine V.R. “Nita” Milliken Wing of the Milliken Fine Arts Building during an afternoon ceremony. Roger Milliken represented the Milliken family at the event.
Funded by an initial gift of $2 million dollars by Mrs. Justine V.R. “Nita” Milliken, the new wing will provide an additional 14,000 square feet to the existing building. Construction is scheduled to be completed by February 2002. It will house lecture studios, state-of-the-art rehearsal studios, a computer-assisted (CAD) lab, darkrooms for photography classes, faculty studios in lofts, kiln and firing yards, an additional art gallery, and a historic preservation room.
DEXTER EDGAR CONVERSE AWARD PRESENTED TO WILLIAM BARNET III
At a Founder’s Day gala Thursday evening, William Barnet III was presented with the 2001 Dexter Edgar Converse Award, the highest honor bestowed by Converse College. Named for the college’s founder, the award is presented to an individual who has provided continuous and substantial service through abundant time, energy, and care.
Bill’s service to Converse began in 1988 when he was first elected to the college’s Board of Trustees. From 1997-99, he served as Chairman of the Board, providing key leadership that led to numerous achievements for the college.
Under his guidance, Converse was able to meet and surpass a fundraising goal of $45 million dollars in 1998-99, securing over $50 million dollars in just nine months. This is particularly impressive because at the time, Converse College had no president in place.
Also in 1999, Bill played a key role in the search for a new president at Converse-a search that resulted with Nancy Oliver Gray being named the college’s eighth president.
Bill’s wife, Valerie, enthusiastically joins him in his support of Converse and was named an honorary alumna of the College last April. “Bill and Valerie both have an uncanny ability to see the possibilities and make the happen,” says Gray. “They have touched the lives of so many people here at Converse.”
The Barnets continue to serve as strong ambassadors for Converse, and support the college financially to this day. In 1999, Bill and Valerie initiated the Converse Challenge, pledging $3 million dollars if the college meets its $75 million dollar goal by June 2003.