Mercersburg Academy Meets Ambitious Campaign Goal Ahead of Schedule

A history-making Campaign has confirmed the place of a central-Pennsylvania boarding school in the ranks of the nation’s top-tier colleges, universities, and prep schools. Mercersburg Academy’s Daring to Lead Campaign, which recently passed the $300 million mark, will increase the school’s endowment by 70 percent, and eventually place the endowment at nearly $1 million per student—a figure that ranks higher than five Ivy League institutions, by current comparisons (Dartmouth, Penn, Brown, Columbia, and Cornell).

Daring to Lead is among only a handful of campaigns for independent secondary schools that have raised $300 million or more. Other campaigns to reach or exceed the $300 million mark include those by Culver Academy ($376 million in 2010), Phillips Exeter Academy ($352 million in 2010), and Phillips Academy Andover ($314 million in 2012). Similar campaigns include Deerfield Academy ($252.9 million in 2015), Choate Rosemary Hall ($215 million in 2011), and Lawrenceville School ($218.5 million in 2010).

Donors contributed more than $79 million to financial aid, the highest priority in the Campaign. When all pledges are fulfilled, the financial aid budget will have grown by almost 100 percent from pre-Campaign levels. (A full list of Campaign outcomes is below.)

Deborah Simon ’74 and John Prentiss ’65, the Daring to Lead co-chairs, announced the attainment of the $300 million mark, which was achieved two months ahead of schedule. “Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest days in Mercersburg’s 123-year history,” commented Simon. “Surpassing our goal of $300 million is a magnificent achievement that will allow more students to be able to benefit from the rich resources of our extraordinary faculty, campus, and curriculum. The transformational effects of Daring to Lead are already evident at Mercersburg, and they will continue to affect every student—current and future.”

Simon is a vice president of the Board of Regents. In October 2013, she and her foundation made a gift of $100 million to the Campaign—the single largest gift in Mercersburg’s history and one of the largest ever to an American independent secondary school. Her generosity inspired many peers—33 Daring to Lead donors gave gifts of $1 million or more, and 144 gave $100,000 or more. All in all, 6,986 contributors, which includes nearly half of all living Mercersburg graduates, supported the transformational initiative since the launch of its quiet phase in 2007-2008.

The short time—33 months—in which Mercersburg raised such a significant sum is another sign of donors’ belief in the school. Many donors have publicly credited Head of School Douglas Hale for the vision and energy that inspired their gifts. Mr. Hale will retire on June 30 after 19 years at Mercersburg’s helm.

As Daring to Lead Co-Vice Chair and Mercersburg Regent Stacie Rice Lissette ’85 remarked, “This is Doug’s Campaign. While so many have worked tirelessly to make this day a reality, no one has worked harder and done more than Doug Hale. Neither the premise for this Campaign nor the Campaign itself would have emerged and flourished without Doug’s remarkable vision, strategic planning, and astute management.”

“Nothing pleases me more than to see this monumental Campaign surpass its goal before the end of my tenure as head of school,” said Hale. “That we have raised $300 million together is gratifying beyond words, and I truly want all of us who have contributed to this Campaign—in any way—to celebrate this achievement with great pride, but also immense gratitude that we at Mercersburg continue our grand tradition as a dynamic, hard-working, egalitarian community that can achieve truly amazing things—together.”

The major outcomes of the Daring to Lead Campaign focus on these five areas:
Scholarships and Financial Aid
  • 53 percent increase in financial aid budget (as of FY 16).
  • 36 new endowed financial aid funds.
Faculty Support
  • 11 new endowed faculty support funds.
  • 4 new endowed faculty chair positions.
Academic and Residential Programs
  • 37 new endowed program support funds.
  • Prentiss-Zimmerman Quadrangle (renovated 2009).
  • Regents’ Field (opened 2009).
  • Nolde Gymnasium (renovated 2010).
  • Lambert J. Gross ’33 Athletic Park (dedicated 2010).
  • Simon Student Center (opened 2013).
  • 1893 House (opened 2013).
  • Menard Family Faculty Homes (opened 2015).
  • Prentiss Alumni and Parent Center at North Cottage (completion anticipated summer 2016).
  • Hale Field House (completion anticipated late 2016).
  • New aquatic center (currently in design).
Annual Giving
  • Grew from $2.4 million in FY 12 to $3.0 million in FY 15 (25 percent growth).
  • Alumni participation increased 41 percent.

Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center.
Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236
GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236