Benefactor group aims to raise $1 million to support SU

The newly formed 1880 Society of the Southern University System Foundation continues to increase its membership and build a financial support network for the University.

Local business leaders and 1880 Society founding members Jacqui Vines and Richard Lipsey co-chaired, "A Gathering of Friends of the 1880 Society," membership event, June 19, at the Shaw Center for the Arts in Baton Rouge.

Vines, senior vice president and general manager for Cox Louisiana, and Lipsey, president of Lipsey's Incorporated, welcomed more than 100 invited guests to meet with SU System President Ronald Mason, SU Baton Rouge Chancellor James Llorens, and other 1880 Society founding members including the group’s chairman, local orthopedic surgeon Darryl Wayne Patterson, M.D.

Over the last year a concerted effort was made to increase unrestricted gifts to the University. Fifteen charter members in the fall of 2011 established the new giving society with the potential to generate $1 million annually for the University. The 1880 Society is a cumulative giving initiative where individuals make multi-year pledges to support the University. The goal is to have 1,000 individuals give at least $1,000 per year.

During the recent membership event, 18 new members joined the 1880 Society, according to Ernie T. Hughes, SU System vice president for advancement.

Timing for raising private funds for the University is critical. For the past three years, the state support to the SU System has been cut more than $40 million. The reduction in state funds and declining enrollment forced the System’s Baton Rouge campus, its largest, to declare a state of financial emergency in 2011.

"Successful fundraising and increased support from graduates and other stakeholders is needed to offset the devastating decline of public resources," said SU System President Ronald R. Mason.

Mason was encouraged by a show of support from the Baton Rouge Area Chamber president and CEO Adam Knapp and the Committee of 100 CEO Michael J. Olivier who pledged to introduce the 1880 Society to their members.

"The Society is the latest in ongoing development and advancement efforts that will go a long way in our efforts to ensure the future of SU," said Mason.

According to Peterson, giving society members are encouraged to recruit one new member per year for five years, or a total of five recruits during the five-­year period.

The society hopes to enroll 100 founding members this summer and to increase membership to 1,000 by January 31, 2014. Membership events will be held in New Orleans and in Shreveport later this summer.

"The 1880 Society seeks to bring together the same type of coalition in 2012 that in 1879 pushed for Southern’s charter… except today our diverse group is expected to help fund its 21st century needs and excellence," said Peterson.

The group currently has 45 founding members and the effort has raised more than $125,000 says Hughes.

"Every dollar donated to the 1880 Society benefits the educational success of current and prospective students and establishes a foundation for the University’s longevity," he explained.

For more information on the 1880 Society, contact Hughes at P.O. Box 9562, Baton Rouge, LA 70813 or call 225.771.3911, or email:

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