Imagine Tomorrow Finishes in Style

The Impact of Imagine Tomorrow

Highlights of how the five-year Imagine Tomorrow campaign has and will benefit Bemidji State University and its students:


The value of annual scholarships awarded by the BSU Foundation have grown from $700,000 to more than $1.4 million this year.

The total number of scholarships awarded by the BSU Foundation have increased by 20 percent, now totaling 832, while named scholarships are up by 50 percent, to 389.

Seventeen BSU academic departments have received additional scholarships designated specifically for their students.

New scholarships for incoming freshmen have contributed to Bemidji State University’s 2 percent enrollment growth for two straight years.


$500,000 from the Joseph and Janice Lueken Family Foundation will fund a BSU Gallery within the new Watermark Art Center in downtown Bemidji.

$160,000 from the Joseph and Janice Lueken
Family Foundation will fund travel by choral and instrumental music groups.

$250,000 from the Joseph and Janice Lueken
Family Foundation supplemented university
funds to upgrade the new Student Media Center
in Deputy Hall.

Student services

Cash and in-kind gifts supported construction of the new Laurel House, a living, gathering and learning space for Honor Program students.

Two new endowments will assist American Indian students with small cash awards to overcome short-term financial challenges that might otherwise force them to drop out.

A major campaign gift to BSU Athletics for
$425,000 helped pay for new artificial turf at
Chet Anderson Stadium.


More than 5,600 donors contributed to the campaign, including 1,434 who had never previously donated to the university.

Annual, unrestricted giving to the Lakeside Fund has increased from $174,415 to $546,300.

Total BSU Alumni & Foundation total assets have grown from $16.2 million to more than $27.8 million.

Three years after publicly launching its Imagine Tomorrow fundraising campaign at the Homecoming Honors Gala, Bemidji State University used the same occasion to celebrate its success: $36.54 million in total gifts and pledges that eclipsed a $35 million goal.

Gold glitter rained down Oct. 14 as a crowd of 350 alumni and friends in the Sanford Center ballroom toasted their achievement with champagne, then hit the dance floor as a 12-piece band kicked in with “Celebration.”

Dr. Faith Hensrud, who was making her first gala appearance on the evening after her inauguration as president of Bemidji State and Northwest Technical College, said the university’s first-ever comprehensive campaign will yield benefits far into the future.

“Thanks to your continued support, and the incredible generosity that have made the Imagine Tomorrow campaign so successful,” Hensrud said, “BSU will remain indispensable in the lives of its students and in helping shape the world our grandchildren will live in.”

The five-year campaign began in low-key mode on July 1, 2011, and concluded on June 30, 2016. Staff of the BSU Alumni & Foundation worked with donors to wrap up final gifts and arrive at the official grand total revealed at the gala.

Nearly half of the total raised —  $17.9 million    will support scholarships, doubling the amount of scholarships BSU provides its students, from about $700,000 in 2010 to more than $1.4 million this year. That includes new scholarships specifically designated for students in 17 academic departments.

An additional $4.2 million will support academic programs, $11.2 million from annual giving can be spent on the university’s highest priorities, and $3.2 million in planned gifts will be received upon donors’ passing.

More than 5,600 donors contributed to Imagine Tomorrow, including 1,434 who had not previously contributed to the university.

Hensrud thanked alumni leaders from around the country who supported and helped guide the campaign, along with foundation and alumni staff, and former President Richard Hanson, who made the campaign a major priority during his six-year tenure.

“His leadership of the Imagine Tomorrow campaign will be a tough act to follow,” she said, “but at the same time, what an inspiration.”

The campaign’s volunteer chair, retired General Mills executive Dave Sorensen ’72 of Minneapolis, said that not only did the campaign reveal the generosity and capacity of BSU’s alums, it confirmed their appreciation for their own years as students.

“Thanks to each and every one of you who engaged in this campaign with a gift,” Sorensen said, “for without you, this campaign would have never reached its goal.”

He added, “Each gift came with a story, and, I tell you, it’s just thrilling to hear them. wIt just makes this whole campaign real.”

Sorensen also thanked volunteer campaign committee members from around the world and the staff of the BSU Alumni & Foundation for their efforts.

“They are dedicated people who have been a joy to work with,” he said. “They’ve worked unbelievably hard, and it’s been extremely motivating just to be around these folks.”

In addition to enabling dramatic growth in scholarships, Imagine Tomorrow funds have gone to support a BSU Gallery in the downtown Bemidji’s Watermark Art Center, travel for BSU musical groups, new artificial turf in Chet Anderson Stadium, a total upgrade of BSU’s student media facilities, emergency financial support for American Indian students, and a new residence and meeting place for Honors Program students.

“Thank you for making so many things possible at BSU,” Hensrud said. “Thank you for imagining tomorrow.”