2009-10-08 / Front Page

Norwich Alumnus Brings In $18 Million To Increase Endowment

The Northfield News

Pierson Mapes Pierson Mapes A Norwich graduate and successful businessman offered to match contributions from the Old Guard at Norwich to help increase the university's endowment.

Former president of the NBC television network, Pierson Mapes, who graduated from Norwich in 1959 credits Norwich with instilling in him the integrity that brought him success in the business world.

Thus far, pledges have yielded Norwich over $18 million.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal in 2007, Mr. Mapes offered to match estate contributions from members of the "Old Guard" - a Norwich tradition recognizing alumni celebrating their 50- year reunion.

He later expanded the offer to include significant cash contributions and a unique match for his own class as they prepared to join the ranks of the Old Guard.

For Mr. Mapes, the decision was very simple.

"Ten years ago my wife, Pat, and I decided that we can make a difference at Norwich which would help America," he said. "I said to myself $10 million will be great when we die but why not leverage this now."

He said he saw an opportunity to double his gift.

"It's an incredible gift," said Norwich President Richard Schneider. "It has had a profound effect on our fundraising because it meant that people could double their money. Norwich alumni are so smart and competitive that when an opportunity is put before them they rise to it, and that's exactly what Pier Mapes did."

To date, the class of '59 has given over $12 million total to Norwich with a 92 percent participation. This is a Norwich record according to President Schneider.

Last weekend at Homecoming ceremonies, President Schneider announced the early end of the Norwich Forever capital campaign. The goal of the campaign, launched in 2005, was $55 million and is ending a year early due to unprecedented success.

Mr. Mapes retired at the age of 56 as president of NBC Television in 1994 where he had been an executive for over 25 years at the time. Since then, he had various business interests and has a track record for philanthropy.

In addition to the matching grant that Mr. Mapes made, through his leadership, Norwich was able to become a leader in sophisticated, cutting-edge, post-production television techniques.

A number of programs produced by students in the communications at Norwich have won awards including the series "Norwich Today" and "Our American Journey" including awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. They won a national first place award and a College Emmy. The series air on public-access cable as well as on the Burlington, Vt. based CBS affiliate, WCAX-TV. Individual programs have also made appearances on Vermont Public Television and nationally on The History Channel.

Mr. Mapes said of Norwich, "when I meet people who don't know Norwich, I basically tell them it's a private West Point," Mr. Mapes has been quoted as saying. "Norwich is four years of continual challenge. The challenges are intellectual, physical, and emotional. Norwich provides you with the skills to make a good evaluation of life situations and to act accordingly."

He said that "Norwich greatly reinforced what our parents taught us regarding integrity. In my view, integrity is the number one major ingredient for success in life. In the multi-billion dollar television business, your word must be your bond that customers can count on. Norwich-learned integrity was the key ingredient that paved the way for my career and my reputation."

"The Norwich environment of continual challenge provides total leadership," Mr. Mapes continued "You become a company commander, a battalion commander, or whatever position you accept, and you learn to assess situations and make excellent decisions because of the challenging environment you're in. Later in life, whether you're in the military or in the corporate world, you make a good estimate of the situation you're in and make the decision that will best benefit your organization.

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