Andover Launches Drive To Generate $200 Million

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Already boasting the largest endowment of any private school in the nation, the Phillips Academy has launched what purports to be the most ambitious capital campaign in private school history.

The 221-year-old boarding school--usually called "Andover" after the Massachusetts town where it's located--hopes to raise $200 million in the next three years. Officials at the Washington-based National Association of Independent Schools said they did not know of any preparatory school that had ever sought to raise so much in one campaign.

Despite the large sum of money Andover already has, the school needs to raise substantially more to reach what David M. Underwood, the president of the school's board of trustees and a 1954 graduate, calls "financial equilibrium."

"We do a lot of things very well," he said. "And we want to continue doing a lot of things very well, and it's expensive to do that."

An oil-company executive, Mr. Underwood made an early $10 million gift to the effort two years ago. But the campaign officially kicked off late last month at a ceremony attended by hundreds of alumni, including former President George Bush, who graduated from the school in 1942.

Campaign organizers expect most of the money will come from alumni, and regional fund-raisers are now planned for 35 cities in the United States, Europe, and Asia in the coming months.

Meritocratic Aims

More than half the donations will go toward building Andover's current $400 million endowment, which now outranks the total endowment of any other prep school, although some smaller schools enjoy better ratios of endowment dollars per student. Andover, serves 829 boarding students and 284 day students in grades 9-12.

A primary goal of the campaign is to further Andover's attempts to bring in more students on the basis of merit rather than financial means, officials said. The school gives $7 million in scholarships each year. About 40 percent of its students receive aid; the average grant is about $16,000 a year.

But with annual tuition for boarders running $24,000, school leaders acknowledge that the cost is still beyond many families.

"We worry a lot about tuition rising and squeezing out people who otherwise would be able to come," Head of School Barbara Landis Chase said.

Other money from the capital campaign will be used to improve and renovate campus buildings, build an Olympic-size hockey rink, and maintain the school's competitive edge in the teachers' salaries it offers.

Ripening Wealth

Other private schools have launched fund-raising drives with goals of $100 million or more in recent years. Lawrenceville School, near Princeton, N.J., raised $134 million from 1992 to 1997.

Helen A. Colson, who runs a Chevy Chase, Md., consulting firm that serves independent schools, suggests several reasons for the growing ambitions, including the soaring stock market in recent years, the huge transfer of wealth now occurring as baby boomers inherit money from their parents, and the greater sophistication of schools' development offices.

Vol. 18, Issue 34, Page 6

Published in Print: May 5, 1999, as Andover Launches Drive To Generate $200 Million
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