FREDERICK — FREDERICK -- With little fanfare, Hood College, a small, expensive institution in downtown Frederick, has raised three-quarters of an ambitious $52.7 million fund-raising goal in three years.
"We've done very well," said Bruce E. Bigelow, vice president for development and college relations. "There's not quite two years left, and we've raised about $40 million. That's not money in hand -- some of it's there in gift trusts and pledges."
Hood officials launched the five-year fund-raising effort -- the largest in the college's 100-year history -- three years ago. Alumni, trustees and businesses were solicited privately during that time.
Last month, the campaign moved into a more public phase, with college officials hoping for a response from a broader audience.
"It's far more than Hood has ever attempted before," said B. J. Davisson, associate director of development and planned giving. more than some colleges, but less than others."
Hood officials plan to use the money over the next 10 to 20 years to build a $5.8 million campus center, to provide $6 million for library improvements and computers, to pay operating expenses and to provide faculty endowments and scholarships and other financial aid.
The former women's college has slightly more than 2,000 students, about 900 in graduate courses. About 10 percent of its undergraduate students are now male.
A decade ago, Hood College officials might have initiated a $3 million or $4 million fund-raising campaign, followed by a larger effort a few years later, to meet building and other needs. But after consulting board members, alumni and Frederick business leaders, Hood officials decided to increase their goal.
"It's a big leap," Mr. Bigelow said. "Most small colleges would look for middle ground and do a $25 million to $30 million campaign."
Hood's efforts were buoyed early in the campaign when the Bowman family -- which has no ties to the college -- donated its 170-acre farm, east of Frederick. The development-ripe farm is worth between $5 million and $10 million and is the largest gift in the college's history.
Proceeds from the sale of the property will go to a trust to support the Bowmans for 20 years, after which the assets will become part of the college's endowment, Hood officials said.
"The farm really got us off with a big bang," Mr. Bigelow said. Publicity about the farm donation has spurred others to make similar gifts to the college, Mr. Davisson said. He estimated that the college has received several million dollars in trusts and annuity gifts.
Among recent donors are Charles W. Hoff III and his wife, Peggy, who made a gift through life insurance policies that will provide the school with $250,000. Mr. Hoff is a Hood trustee and chairman of Farmers & Mechanics National Bank Corp., which has donated $125,000.
Before the campaign, Hood was raising less than $600,000 a year for operating expenses, well behind other small colleges, Mr. Davisson said. It has doubled those donations with the campaign.
The college was founded in Frederick in 1893. Between 1900 and 1910, Margaret Scholl Hood, a community leader, gave the college a mortgage on land valued at $20,000. The college campus is on Mrs. Hood's land.