$200 Million Capital Campaign Launches
Posted 11/02/2006 12:00AM

Wallingford, Connecticut, November 11 –On Saturday, November 11, the Connecticut launch of An Opportunity to Lead – The Campaign for Choate Rosemary Hall was held on the school’s campus in Wallingford.

Choate Rosemary Hall, an independent boarding school, has officially announced its $200 million capital campaign in support of identified school priorities. More than $100 million in gifts and pledges toward the overall goal has been secured during a two-year “silent” preliminary fundraising period in anticipation of this announcement.

Former Choate parent and award-winning ESPN SportCenter anchor, NFL studio host, and baseball commentator Chris Berman P '04, '05, was the special guest speaker at Saturday evening’s launch event.

One of America's most respected and popular sportscasters, Berman has been selected six times as National Sportscaster of the Year by the members of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Berman and his various shows have won seven Emmy Awards and 12 CableACEs. He and his wife, Kathy, are parents of two Choate Rosemary Hall graduates.

An Opportunity to Lead is the largest capital campaign in the history of Choate Rosemary Hall and also among the largest-ever in Connecticut secondary school history. The school’s previous campaign, A Shared Commitment, commenced in 1992 and successfully concluded in 2000, raising $135 million. The newly announced campaign seeks to secure a total of $200 million in support of the school’s strategic priorities, including new endowment dedicated to student financial aid, faculty development, and the enhancement of academic programs.

In addition, the campaign will provide funding for the construction of two new dormitories, a new track facility and athletic fields, and will contribute to the restoration and renovation of several buildings on the school’s historic campus.

On Thursday, Nov. 2, Herbert V. Kohler, Jr. ’57, CEO of Wisconsin-based Kohler Company and Chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees, announced the launch of the public phase of An Opportunity to Lead at a gala at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Broadway at 60th Street, NYC.

Bruce S. Gelb ’45, National Campaign Chair and retired Vice Chair of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, and award-winning actress and producer Glenn Close ’65 were featured speakers at the New York event. Mr. Gelb is the President of the Council of American Ambassadors, a former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, and the former Director of the U.S. Information Agency. Ms. Close is an Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress, and has received five Academy Award nominations.

Initial gifts include an $11.7 million gift from The Walton Family Foundation at the direction of a 1992 alumnus of the school to establish the Gakio-Walton Scholars Program, and to provide professional development funds for Choate’s teaching faculty. The Walton grant is one of the largest single gifts in support of financial aid in the school’s 116-year history.

A $6 million gift bequeathed by a 1927 graduate of the former Rosemary Hall School provided the lead gift for construction of the two new dormitories, the first student residences to be built at the school in nearly 40 years. The dormitories will house 80 students and eight faculty families. The $22 million project will comprise a total of 57,000 square feet and is designed to provide a striking addition to existing campus structures.

Through the generosity of a 1945 graduate of the Choate School, a new $2.2 million state-of-the-art track and field facility is currently under construction and scheduled to open in the Spring of 2007. The track will have an artificial running surface of the latest design with a full-size natural turf playing field in its center.

Three new faculty houses were also recently dedicated on campus and made possible by a $1.3 million contribution from a Wallingford-based couple with children enrolled at the school. What is significant about An Opportunity to Lead, according to Headmaster Edward J. Shanahan, is not only the 250 leadership donors who stepped forward during the “silent” fundraising period to make contributions in excess of $10,000 or more, representing “an unequaled vote of confidence in the school and the direction it is taking,” but the breadth of opportunities that the $200 million will provide.

Choate Rosemary Hall, located on over 450 acres in Wallingford, Connecticut, is a coeducational boarding school of 844 students in grades 9 through 12. Long respected for its high standards of academic excellence, the school has graduated numerous prominent leaders in the areas of government, academia, business, and the arts. Among the best known alumni are: President John F. Kennedy ’35; Ambassador Adlai Stevenson ’18; playwright Edward Albee ’46, actors Michael Douglas ’63, Glenn Close ’65, Jamie Lee Curtis Guest ’76, Ali MacGraw ’56; Paul Giamatti ’85; author John Dos Passos ’11; and writer/editor Marian Fox Burros ’50.