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$6M gift from McKendree alumnus moves capital campaign closer to goal

The largest gift in the history of McKendree University in Lebanon — a $6 million donation from an alumnus —significantly moves its capital campaign closer to completion.

mckendreelogoJohn Bailey, of Dallas, Texas, a 1976 McKendree graduate and longtime member of the board of trustees, has pledged $6 million to be paid over a period of time to FORWARD: The Campaign for McKendree University.

Launched in May 2016, the $40 million campaign is raising funds for renovations to Holman Library and Voigt Science Hall, including improved technology for teaching, learning, research and collaborative study. It also supports endowed scholarships, endowed faculty positions and upgrades to older buildings, some of which are more than 100 years old.

“This extraordinary gift is a great example of how our alumni are successful, engaged and invested in McKendree University, its mission and objectives,” said Dr. James Dennis, president.

As the campaign moves closer to its goal, funding opportunities remain for the modernization of Voigt Science Hall, built in 1965, said Victoria Dowling, senior vice president of institutional advancement. “We are still actively raising funds for an addition and much needed improvements to our science building,” she said. “We hope Mr. Bailey’s generosity will inspire more alumni and others to make gifts as well.”

Bailey, a former Mascoutah resident, now lives in Dallas. He earned a degree in business administration from McKendree in 1976 and went on to become a successful real estate magnate and philanthropist. He has served on the Board of Trustees since 2004 and, as a longtime member of the William McKendree Society for donors, has supported the Annual Fund, Bearcat athletic program, and other fund-raising campaigns.

“It is my philosophy that you should earn money honestly and that you should use your wealth to do good works,” Bailey said. “As someone who has been successful, I believe it’s my responsibility to benefit the people, places and things I care about. In a time of so much strife and upset in our country and our communities, I hope this serves as a reminder that everybody has the opportunity, within their means and ability, to contribute for the good of others.”

The previous largest donation to McKendree was $5.5 million from the late Fern Hettenhausen of Belleville, Ill. Her lead gift jump-started the effort to construct the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts, which has become southern Illinois’ premier performing arts venue since its 2006 opening.

For more information on the FORWARD campaign, call (618) 537-6456 or visit mckendree.edu/forward.

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