In Our Hands campaign surpasses goal 20 months ahead of schedule

Fargo, N.D. — The North Dakota State University Foundation announced In Our Hands: The Campaign for North Dakota State University raised $413 million as of April 26, 2021 — a record amount in the history of higher education fundraising in the state. NDSU originally announced a campaign goal of $400 million in Oct. 2019.

“It is an incredible testament to Bison Nation that we have met and exceeded the campaign goal 20 months ahead of schedule,” John Glover, NDSU Foundation president and CEO, said. “Most importantly, though, we’re not done yet.”

During Homecoming 2015, NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani announced several goals for moving the university forward, which included increased philanthropy to support NDSU students and faculty. Thus, the Foundation began working with prospective donors, explaining the need and securing gifts, beginning Jan. 1, 2016; the campaign’s original timeline was to finish Dec. 31, 2022.

“To accomplish a campaign of this magnitude is extraordinary,” President Bresciani said. “The fact that benefactors supported this campaign across all areas — student scholarships, faculty research, facilities, and programs — means we are able to deliver a superior higher education experience.”

The campaign has raised $169 million for student scholarships, $28 million for faculty support, $96 million for facilities, and $120 million for programs.

While the $400 million goal has been achieved, fundraising will continue through Dec. 31, 2021, with plans for NDSU to celebrate the campaign’s impact at in-person Homecoming events this fall, Oct. 6-9, 2021. Glover said the campaign will wrap up one year earlier than originally scheduled.

Already, students, faculty, and staff are experiencing the impact of the In Our Hands campaign. There are students on campus today receiving scholarships because of this campaign; faculty are conducting research supported by benefactors right now; students are learning in buildings funded by donors; and students are participating in programs offering exceptional experiences to better prepare them for the ever-changing needs of communities near and far.

Campaign co-chairs Robert ’67 and Sheila Challey and Steve ’78 and Mary Anne ’77 Swiontek joined the announcement made to Foundation Trustees during the organization’s annual spring meetings held virtually April 28-30, 2021.

“This is an incredible moment, and we are blessed to experience this together,” Sheila Challey said. “We believe in NDSU — it is truly in our hearts.”

The Challeys announced their campaign gift of $75 million during the campaign launch on Oct. 10, 2019. This is the largest single gift ever documented at North Dakota State University. In July 2020, the Challeys designated $1 million of that gift to fund the In Our Hands Legacy Challenge to inspire others to name the NDSU Foundation, for the benefit of NDSU, in their estate plans. Those dollars are used to match a percentage of each documented estate gift to an NDSU fund of the donor’s choice today.

“We wanted to do more in the area of legacy gifts but also recognize the enjoyment of giving while you’re still living,” Robert Challey said. “More than $22 million has been documented through this challenge and nearly 60 funds across campus have benefited from the matching dollars. This is a wonderful time, and we want to thank everyone who has donated so generously.”

Steve and Mary Anne Swiontek have built their family and careers in Fargo following their graduation from NDSU. Their dedication to this community is deeply rooted, and after years of giving back, this milestone sparks a lot of pride.

“I am grateful to all those who helped. There’s a great sense of accomplishment,” Mary Anne Swiontek said. “I’m overwhelmed by the manner in which we’ve attained this goal. None of us expected this — it’s a great surprise.”

Steve Swiontek, executive chair and chairman of the board at Gate City Bank, said this campaign has been an opportunity for the bank to further invest in making a difference.

“We want this campaign to transform NDSU — not just enhance it but transform it,” Steve Swiontek said. “It is exciting to see the differences being made for NDSU students.”

Gate City Bank’s commitment to bettering NDSU and its students has been instrumental in making capital changes at NDSU in recent years through offering a creative financing option for Aldevron Tower, the $28 million, all privately-funded teaching and research building for the College of Health Professions, which opened in Jan. 2020. Gate City Bank will also offer a unique, low-interest rate to finance the Nodak Insurance Company Football Performance Complex set to begin construction later this year. In addition, Gate City Bank provided support directly to the Foundation to underwrite various costs associated with funding the campaign’s operations.

Since 2016, the NDSU Foundation has sent $90 million to campus in support of student scholarships, faculty, facilities, and programs. This is a more than 44% increase from the dollars sent to campus between 2011 and 2015. In 2020, a record $6.5 million was awarded to NDSU students for scholarships, and already in 2021, an additional $1 million was made available to NDSU exclusively for a new student scholarship program in an effort to increase enrollment. Additionally, the NDSU Foundation endowment recently surpassed $300 million, an all-time high. In 2015, the value of the endowment was $132 million.

To date, the In Our Hands campaign has funded the creation of the Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth, the Menard Family Distinguished Speaker Series, the Ozbun Entrepreneurship and NICE Center, the Ron and Kaye Olson Deanship in the College of Business, eight named faculty positions, hundreds of new student scholarships, Aldevron Tower, and the Nodak Insurance Company Football Performance Complex. Many benefactors have also contributed to the Agricultural Products Development Center, a new facility primarily funded by the North Dakota state legislature, which was recently approved.

Previous campaigns in support of NDSU include the $4 million SU ’75 campaign; the Centennial campaign, which raised $9 million; the $20 Million campaign, which raised $27 million; and the $108.4 million Momentum campaign. To make your gift to the In Our Hands campaign, visit

Collection of photos from the public launch of In Our Hands: The Campaign for North Dakota State University on Oct. 10, 2019.

Collection of photos from the public launch of In Our Hands: The Campaign for North Dakota State University on Oct. 10, 2019.


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


Nicole Thom-Arens
Director of Communications
NDSU Foundation
(701) 231-6808 | 800-279-8971