When we started planning the April 24 Red Tie Gala to kick off the Campaign for a Bradley Renaissance, the goal was to create a “wow” event, one that would showcase to the entire Bradley community — and beyond — all of the great initiatives that are happening on the Hilltop.
If the comments I’ve heard are any indication, we did not disappoint. The gala was a “must see” evening, from the impressive Points of Pride that highlighted our students’ achievements to the Bradley game show that tested the audience’s BU knowledge, from the perfectly timed confetti drop to the decadent white chocolate Bradley Sweet Spot dessert for all 1,000 guests. All in all, it was a perfect event, and I’m glad so many friends and alumni could attend.
The highlights were the announcement of our campaign goal — $150 million; our total raised to date — more than $104 million; and the largest gift in the University’s history — $30 million from Caterpillar Inc.
I cannot thank enough Cat chairman and CEO Jim Owens for being a part of our program and all the men and women of Team Caterpillar for making this gift and our wonderful partnership with Caterpillar a reality.
Including Caterpillar, there were 20 individual, corporate, foundation and estate gifts of $1 million or more — donors who are now charter members of our Bradley Renaissance Circle Society. While every one is very important to the University, there is one I want to highlight here because it was so unexpected and so special.
The story started four decades ago when a young student came to Bradley from South Bend, Indiana. CHARLES F. CREAMER III ’68 found a home and friends on the Hilltop. He studied journalism and history, and pledged Sigma Nu fraternity, where his brothers remember him as bright, social and caring. He was the kind of guy who would go out of his way for others without being asked.
Charlie left Bradley after the 1968 academic year and entered the Army. Tragically, the helicopter he was piloting was shot down on Nov. 28, 1970 in Vietnam, and Charlie was killed.
That was the last contact the University had with the Creamer family for 37 years. And then Charlie’s mom passed away in Florida last August. Marie Creamer had a successful career after losing her only son. She became one of the nation’s foremost designers of high-fashion rugs, creating many innovative and creative designs and devising technical changes that were duplicated around the world.
By the time of her death at 94, Mrs. Creamer had amassed a substantial estate. And thinking back to her son's wonderful experience at Bradley, she left the University an unrestricted gift of $3.7 million.
We didn’t have the opportunity to properly thank Mrs. Creamer. But I pledge that her generous gift will be used to help generations of Bradley students who come to the Hilltop looking for a top-quality education and lifelong friends, just as her son did in 1964. And because of her gift, the memory of Charles Creamer III will live on at Bradley.
These are truly exciting times on the Hilltop. The future is bright, and I remain humbled and honored to serve as your president.
The Campaign for a Bradley Renaissance is just part of our effort to transform Bradley from being a very good university into a great one. Our goal is to make Bradley a university of national distinction. I know we can do so with your help. Thanks for all you’ve done and all you’ll do in the future to support Bradley.
And remember, “Once a Brave, always a Brave.”
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