NEW LONDON -- The Coast Guard Academy Class of 1965 has given the largest gift by any class to its alma mater, according to retired Capt. Andrea Marcille, president of the academy's alumni association.
The class has donated a little more than $1 million to the academy's Center for Arctic Study and Policy, established last September as a think tank to serve the entire Coast Guard in procedural and policy matters relating to the Arctic.
The class has had an endowment fund for at least 10 years, much of which has gone to support marine and environmental science programs at the academy, according to Marcille.
Traditionally, academy classes donate a gift to the school at their 50th reunion, which the Class of 1965 celebrated this past weekend.
Last January, the class's gift committee -- retired Vice Adm. Roger Rufe, class president, retired Vice Adm. Kent Williams and retired Rear Adm. Doug Teeson -- met with then-Superintendent Vice Adm. Sandra Stosz to discuss the class' upcoming reunion and gift.
Stosz outlined the academy's needs that "went beyond the prospects for federal funding in the short term," Teeson, who is also a member of The Day's board of directors and is on the board of the academy's alumni association, said by phone Thursday. "The one that really caught our fancy was the Center for Arctic Study and Policy. With the melting of the Arctic, the coast that the Coast Guard has to guard is a lot bigger and a lot more complicated."
With what's currently happening in the Arctic, the Coast Guard's expected role there and with retired Coast Guard Adm. Robert Papp, the State Department's special representative for the Arctic, gearing up for the U.S. to head the eight-country Arctic Council for the next two years, the timing seemed right to donate to the center, Teeson said.
The center, known as CASP, is also a way for the academy to attract talent.
"We thought, and the academy thinks, that the presence of the center will help in that regard, also," Teeson said, noting that academy officials have said they want CASP to have an impact across the cadets' entire curriculum.
To start, the gift committee reached out to classmates and widows all around the country with a series of webinars. There are about 100 surviving classmates and eight widows, according to Teeson.
The committee set a goal that if everybody in the class, over the next five years, gave $1,000 a year, they should be able to reach $500,000. They reached that amount pretty quickly with two-thirds of the class donating, including the eight widows, Teeson said.
The committee launched two different matching campaigns that applied to contributions made from outside of the class.
The first tier is a one-for-one match, using the excess funds in the class' endowment.
The endowment has grown to exceed the amount needed to support the annual drawing of funds, thanks to good stewardship of the fund by the alumni association, according to Teeson.
So the committee took that excess and said it would match dollar for dollar any contribution from outside the class.
The second tier is a one-for-two match. Any amount that came from within the class that exceeds the $500,000, those funds would be used to match every $2 donated from anybody outside of the class.
Some of the contributors outside of the class have included corporations or companies that match their employees' gifts. The class received "support from companies like that," Teeson said.