William M. Hardt, Princeton’s assistant vice president for Annual Giving and longtime leader of the most successful Annual Giving program in the country, will retire in the fall of 2018 after 47 years at the University.
Hardt, a member of Princeton’s Class of 1963, was instrumental in building Princeton’s Annual Giving program and its distinctive volunteer-based structure. When he joined the program in 1971 as an assistant director, donations totaled $3.4 million. In 2017-18, gifts from alumni, parents, and friends tallied nearly $70 million.
“The degree of engagement at Princeton is extraordinary,” Hardt said. “We all have a sense of being part of something important — a hope for the future that is characteristic of Princeton. We have all been part of something special during our time here. People appreciate that others made their experience possible. One generation reaches back to support the next one.”
Gifts to Annual Giving go directly into the operating budget; these flexible funds provide Princeton’s “margin of excellence,” allowing the University to seize new intellectual opportunities, respond to unexpected challenges, and support a pioneering financial aid program that makes a Princeton education possible for all admitted students regardless of their resources. It is volunteer-driven, with approximately 3,000 Annual Giving volunteers who, supported by staff members, reach out to encourage support for the University. “The key has always been the dedication of volunteers,” Hardt said. “This is not the institution of Princeton reaching out to the flock, but volunteers saying ‘please join me in this important mission to support this great institution.’ That spirit existed from the beginning.”
Annual Giving began in 1941, with gifts of about $80,000 from 3,371 alumni — roughly 18 percent of the alumni body. After ten years, the total rose to about $1,000,000 from 50 percent of alumni. Last year, nearly 56 percent of undergraduate alumni, joined by graduate alumni, friends, and parents of current students and alumni, gave $69,554,597. Gifts to Annual Giving have totaled over $1.32 billion since 1941.
Louise Sams, a Princeton trustee, member of Princeton’s Class of 1979, and executive vice president and general counsel of the Turner Broadcasting System, Inc, is a former chair of Princeton’s Annual Giving Committee. “Bill is tireless in his commitment to Princeton, and to Princetonians. His deep belief in Princeton’s mission — and in everyone who works on behalf of Annual Giving — has been at the heart of all of our achievements.”
In 2017-18, unrestricted gifts, including those made through Annual Giving, provided nearly 10 percent of the University's budget for educational expenses. “Those gifts make an enormous difference to Princeton, and they help deepen the bond that alumni have to our University, and to one another,” said current Annual Giving Chair Timothy Kingston, a member of Princeton’s Class of 1987 and chair of Goldman Chile. “Annual Giving is a tradition that links all generations.”
Hardt will continue to serve Princeton as a senior advisor. He will be succeeded by Sue Walsh, currently director of Annual Giving, as executive director of Annual Giving. Walsh, who has been with Annual Giving since 1992, has worked with the classes of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, including helping them to celebrate their 10th, 15th, and 25th Reunions. Before coming to Princeton, she was a senior associate director of development at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and director of leadership gifts at United Way of New York City.
To read more about Hardt's dedication and leadership, click here.