NORWICH — Rich Schneider may be on the way out as president of Norwich University, but that hasn’t stopped him from planning for the future.
The school is coming off a record-breaking, five-year bicentennial Forge the Future capital campaign that surpassed its $100 million goal, raising $121.2 million through the end of 2019.
The school is now involved in a three-year strategic plan that began in 2018 called “NU after 2035,” that will carry the school forward with a fundraiser to support largely academic offerings and scholarship programs.
Schneider will retire May 31 after 28 years. He has welcomed his successor, Col. Mark Anarumo, who was appointed last month as school’s 28th president. Anarumo starts June 1.
On Monday, Schneider reviewed the fundraising campaigns he has led a since 1992.
Plan 2000 included two campaigns: The 175th anniversary Campaign (1991-1994) with a goal of raising $14 million, actually raising $15.3 million; and the Leadership Campaign (1996 to 2001), with a goal of $25 million, actually raising $28.9 million.
The NU 2019 Campaign encompassed three fundraising campaigns: Norwich Forever! (2002 to 2009), with a goal of $55 million, actually raising $81.9 million; Bearing the Torch (2010 to 2012), with a goal of $20.2 million, actually raising $24.8 million; and Forging the Future (2014 to 2019), with a goal of $100 million, actually raising $121.2 million.
For Schneider, it is a familiar formula that has worked well for Norwich.
“I think our mission is very unique and we know how to execute on that mission,” Schneider said. “We’ve had, in my presidency, three strategic plans now.
“We look very hard at the environment out there and then write our strategic plan to leverage our strengths and fix our weaknesses. We’ve exercised all of these three plans and have achieved everything that’s been laid out in those three plans,” he added.
Schneider said Norwich’s success, bolstering cadet and student enrollment and significant growth in academic offerings, had helped the university weather a changing higher education landscape, while other small colleges in Vermont had closed recently.
“I think our alumni and our friends know that they can count on us delivering when we say, ‘This is the vision, this is the plan we’re trying to put in place – will you help us?’” Schneider said. “Money is the root of all excellence when it comes to higher education and I think they believe us, because we’ve delivered on every promise we’ve made, and they love supporting winners.
“They love the mission and they love the plan and so they’re going to provide the resources to implement that plan,” he added, noting that it had always been a partnership with donors to advance the institution.
Schneider said he had been working on the next capital campaign, preparing the groundwork for Anarumo,
“So this is a constant construction, and I don’t mean construction in just the physical sense,” Schneider said. “It’s also in the intellectual sense, where you have to build consensus as a group.
“It takes me a year or more to get everybody on board, they have input on the plan, it’s vetted internally and then the board approves it and then we work that plan to the horizon to the next one,” he added. “That’s the discipline that I think I’ve brought to the school. This is a very military thing ... you have to have a strategic plan that people believe. It has to be credible and I think we have built very credible that people can buy into.”
Schneider said he could not yet reveal specifics of the fundraising goals for NU after 2035, but said it would be a short, three-year campaign that would focus on making tuition affordable while building the branding, stature and visibility of the private military school.
“The board has already approved the fund-raising goals, what we’re raising the money for, for the next three years,” Schneider said. “That will give (Anarumo) time to really work the plan and see what changes he might like to make ... then they can have a big campaign, after he’s been in the chair for a while and really knows the place.
“So, this is part of our grooming him and developing him as our new president, to give him a short, reasonable campaign – probably about $10 million a year, roughly, mostly for scholarships, which is generally the easiest money there is to raise,” he added. “I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of buildings. It’s going to be mostly focused on affordability, flexibility and relevance. Those are the three standards and themes that we’re going to use in this plan.”
Schneider said Anarumo’s military and academic experience made him the perfect candidate to be the next president on Norwich.
“He’s been a fundraiser and built academic programs at other institutions,” Schneider said. “It’s all about the fit.”