Retired NASA scientist Lucy McFadden fuels Hampshire College drive with $2 million gift

When the COVID-19 pandemic first sank its teeth into the financial security of higher education, Hampshire College officials said their five-year fundraising goal of $60 million remained unchanged.

They just might make it.

A $2 million gift from retired NASA scientist Lucy McFadden raised Hampshire’s drive total to $22,583,810 since its launch in January of 2019. Titled “Change in the Making: A Campaign for Hampshire,” the drive has gained momentum with two multimillion-dollar donations within a week.

McFadden’s contribution was targeted to partner with Paula H. and James S. Crown on the Crown Founders Challenge, which aims to raise significant support from the College’s first five entering classes, from 1970–1975.

Last week, the college announced the Crowns had made a $5 million investment – the largest in Hampshire’s half-century history. The Crowns will match donations from fellow alums through a Founders Challenge that boosts the fund campaign, which is timed to honor Hampshire’s 50th anniversary.

The school opened in 1970. The 50th anniversary class entered this fall.

McFadden attended Hampshire in its earliest years and graduated in 1974. She is no stranger to the Amherst institution, having helped refurbish the Cole Science Center on the college’s campus.

Dr. McFadden is a co-chair of the fund drive, a position she shares with fellow alums Ken Burns, Julie Schecter and Gail O’Neill Caulkins. The campaign calls for $60 million by 2024 to fuel Hampshire’s curricular transformation, ensure financial sustainability, and maintain its role as a distinctive and experimenting institution.

“As a member of Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees and an alumna of the first class, I’m thrilled to further commit to the future of Hampshire along with my friend Jim Crown. I found my passion for scientific exploration at Hampshire, like so many students who’ve had scientific fields opened for them by the college’s distinctive and collaborative approach to STEM Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,’’ McFadden said.

“After a long and fulfilling career exploring our solar system, I can’t think of anywhere more deserving of my support.”

This is the 10th multimillion-dollar donation the college has received in its history.

“Any institution would be fortunate to have a person like Lucy McFadden in its corner,” Hampshire President Ed Wingenbach said.

“Lucy’s impressive career with NASA highlights Hampshire’s strength in educating scientists and illustrates one example of what we mean when we say our graduates are change-makers. Her leadership of our campaign, her mentorship of our students, and her dedicated board service are exemplary. Alongside those contributions, she has quietly built a legacy of remarkable philanthropy for her alma mater.”

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