North Dakota State University launches $400 million campaign to support students

FARGO, N.D., — Since 1890, North Dakota State University has been dedicated to student excellence, and its commitment moved to new heights Thursday with the launch of In Our Hands: The Campaign for North Dakota State University, a $400 million comprehensive fundraising campaign that will impact every corner of campus.

The campaign goal — and a historic leadership gift commitment of $75 million — were announced at a special event held at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex, attended by students, faculty, alumni and friends of NDSU. The campaign is being co-chaired by Robert ’67 and Sheila Challey of Walnut Creek, California, and Steve ’78 and Mary Anne ’77 Swiontek of Fargo, North Dakota.

In Our Hands marks the largest fundraising initiative in the history of higher education in North Dakota, with goals to secure funds for scholarships, faculty, facilities and programs.

“We have a vision to lift up every NDSU student and our state through this campaign,” President Dean L. Bresciani said. “NDSU is at a pivotal moment in its storied history, and as we look to the future, we must strengthen the student experience to respond to the needs of our community, state and world.”

The three-and-a-half year, advanced gifts phase of the campaign built tremendous momentum, with more than $308.4 million in current and deferred gift commitments already secured. Robert and Sheila Challey are making a $75 million leadership gift during the campaign, which is the largest in university history.

“We are grateful for the tremendous momentum in starting In Our Hands and thank the many benefactors who have invested in our students to date,” John R. Glover, president/CEO of the NDSU Foundation, said. “The Challeys’ support will help take this campaign to another level. Their commitment comes through a combination of current and deferred gift support that will be received over time. They made outright gifts early in the campaign, which fueled our fundraising efforts. Deferred gifts will come through a variety of planned arrangements, such as wills, trusts, retirement plans or real property. The timing of when these gifts are realized depends on the donor, life circumstances and institutional priorities. What I know is they want to make as big of an impact as possible, as soon as they can.”

In addition to the Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth, announced in March, the Challeys’ gift support will go toward NDSU’s Division of Performing Arts and Challey School of Music, Presidential Scholarships for students, named faculty positions, facility projects and other future programs to be determined.

The Challeys’ belief and confidence in NDSU has extended for decades. After graduating with a degree in chemistry, Robert attended graduate school in California and then remained to build a successful real estate development company. There, he met Sheila, and today, they have three grown children. In 1981, Robert joined the NDSU Foundation as a trustee, a role he still holds today. Through the years, they never forgot their Fargo and NDSU roots.

“We believe strongly in the future of NDSU and want to make an impact for as many students as possible,” Sheila Challey said. “And we ask all those that care about NDSU to consider joining us to make a difference for tomorrow’s leaders of our communities and country.”

“NDSU means a great deal to our family, and we can trace our connections all the way back to the early years of the university,” Robert Challey said. “We care deeply about NDSU, Fargo and North Dakota and its future.”

Numerous funding priorities have already been established during the advanced gifts phase of In Our Hands, including student scholarship endowments in all academic and athletic areas, the first endowed deanship in business, faculty fellowships in engineering, building projects such as Aldevron Tower and the completion of Sanford Health Athletic Complex, a unique low-interest financing gift-in-kind from Gate City Bank, and the extraordinary and annually record-breaking support of Team Makers, which supports Bison athletics.

“This campaign is an opportunity to come together and invest in the future of this institution, the state of North Dakota and the world,” Steve Swiontek said. “By all of us working together, with our many different passions as far as what we want to do, whether it be scholarships, capital construction, endowments or faculty support, we have the potential to invest in NDSU so that it can prepare students to meet the demands of the future.”

“This is a campaign for the student here now and in the generations to come,” Mary Anne Swiontek said. “And, we know that all of Bison Nation wants to lift up the next generation of Bison by making a gift through In Our Hands.”

“Transformative philanthropy can change the trajectory of a student, of ground-breaking research, of championship performances, of service to our community, state and world,” Glover said. “Bison philanthropy can be a powerful force when the herd comes together to support every student through this campaign. We look forward to achieving our goal to support students at NDSU.”

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The NDSU Foundation builds enduring relationships that maximize advocacy and philanthropy to support North Dakota State University.


Nicole Thom-Arens
Director of Communications
(701) 231-6800 | 800-279-8971