ST. CLOUD – St. Cloud State University on Tuesday unveiled a $32 million fundraising campaign to support the goal of remaking itself as a new university to stay competitive and relevant.

The campaign is the university's first large fundraising effort in more than two decades. It has already raised $28.2 million and organizers touted the university's vision during Tuesday's public announcement.

"You can't but help be excited about the direction of St. Cloud State University," said Barclay Carriar, chairman of the board for the St. Cloud State University Foundation.

Carriar, a 1985 graduate who is now a financial adviser, encouraged alumni and community members to advocate for the university and make financial contributions if able.

"Some will say that this is the state's responsibility. That's only partially true, as state support alone is not sufficient to aspire to this vision," Carriar said. "This generation of hardworking students deserve our support, as do our faculty, staff and coaches. Others supported us when we were students, and now it's our turn."

St. Cloud State is one of seven universities in the Minnesota State system. It serves about 16,000 students.

The campaign — called "Unleash the Future: The Campaign for St. Cloud State" — is focused on initiatives that will help distinguish the university by helping fund scholarships, technology, faculty and staff development, interdisciplinary research, program innovation, its endowed speaker series and upgrades to the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

The university will also emphasize individualized approaches to student success and prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion.

"We will always serve educational needs of our local and central Minnesota communities but now we will also broaden our reach to serve more students, communities and organizations beyond Minnesota," said Robbyn Wacker, president of St. Cloud State. "At the same time, we will leverage resources and opportunities from across the country and around the globe to remain competitive and relevant in a globally connected world."

Wacker became the university's 24th president — and first permanent female president — in July 2018. At the time, she said her goal was to make St. Cloud State the university of choice in Minnesota.

More recently, Wacker unveiled a vision called "It's Time" that emphasizes being a leader in four areas of academic excellence: holistic health and wellness, applied science and engineering, education and leadership.

"It's time for St. Cloud State to be a bold and innovative university — a university that defies the expectations that others have for us, a university that builds on its strength to be the first in the country to reimagine the ways in which we serve our students, engage and empower our faculty and staff, and partner with education, business and community partners," she said at Tuesday's fundraising campaign rollout.

Jenny Berg • 612-673-7299

Twitter: @bergjenny