Step Forward fundraiser comes to Twin Cities

By April Dejarlais

Macalester’s Step Forward fundraising campaign was welcomed home to the Twin Cities last Friday after a year of touring in the United States and London. About 450 Macalester alumni, faculty, staff and students gathered in the Leonard Center to create the largest Step Forward regional event; before the event, organizers said they were expecting about 800 attendees. The previous largest events were held in Washington, D.C., and New York City, with about 200 attendees at each. This Step Forward event was the last public gathering for the current phase of Step Forward. The campaign has raised $110 million toward its goal of $150 million and has completely funded the Leonard Center and the Institute for Global Citizenship.

The evening began with a buffet for guests featuring global cuisine and plenty of time to mingle. Both students and alumni were excited to be in attendance.

“It’s really great to be able to meet alumni,” MCSG Vice President Karen Maeda ’12 said.

Combining the old and new of Macalester, the concert choir and the African Music Ensemble began the official program with a traditional African song followed by an ode to Scotland.

The Step Forward campaign chair, Jerry Crawford ’71, welcomed onstage students Rudy Herrera Marmol ’10, Helinna Ayalew ’10, Mishal Khan ’10 and Rob Jentsch ’10 to remark on lessons they learned at Macalester. Jentsch told an anecdote about the difference between life at Macalester and elsewhere: “More than leaving a world of my friends, I’m entering into one,” he said.

Following the student introductions was a viewing of the winning Step Forward student video, A Macalester Madrigal, by Matthew Ecklund ’09. With an aim of persuading potential donors to give money, the video chronicled a student’s Macalester career.

Amanda Cagan ’10 spoke of leaving California for Minnesota’s treacherous winters, much to the disbelief of friends and family at home. Even winters, much to the disbelief of friends and family at home. Even with its subzero weather, she said Macalester “inspired” her.

“With every event, there are opportunities for extended learning,” she said.
President Brian Rosenberg was introduced by Crawford, who praised him for not laying off any faculty, increasing financial aid and proceeding with capital projects despite the economic recession.

In his address Rosenberg said he “never regretted” moving forward with the fundraising campaign and noted that financial aid increased at three times the rate of tuition increase.

He also talked about the upcoming Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center renovations, the next project on the campaign’s list. So far, $11.5 million has been raised toward the $24 million goal for the center.

“Arts are central to what we teach at Macalester,” he said. “Arts help us see the world clearly, and without the ability to see, we cannot fully develop our ability to learn.”

The program concluded with Step Forward’s official film The World Stage, in which notable Macalester alumni worldwide were interviewed. Voicing the benefits of a Macalester education included author Tim O’Brien ’68, statesman Walter Mondale ’50 and United Nations Programme Manager Tonderai Chikuhwa ’96.

Marmol, Ayalew, Khan and Jentsch then said the Peace Prayer in Spanish, Amharic, Urdu and English respectively.

With the economy’s current status, it is difficult for campaign staff to set a concrete date for Step Forward’s final celebration, Vice President for Student Affairs Laurie Hamre said. Until then, the campaign will work behind the scenes to reach fundraising goals.

“Whether it knows it or not, the world needs Macalester,” Rosenberg said in his speech.