Riverland to stop holding yearly gala

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 11, 2002

The party is over. At least for now.

The yearly gala held by Riverland Community College at the Albert Lea campus has been discontinued due to the dramatic increase in the cost of hosting the event, according to a press release sent out by the college on Tuesday.

The annual event has been a springtime staple for the Albert Lea community for 17 years. Its purpose was to raise funds for scholarships for students at the college’s Albert Lea campus.

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At their November meeting the Albert Lea Campus Foundation decided that the gala would not continue.

&uot;Unfortunately, as costs continue to rise, we are not able to generate enough income to offset the increase, even if we were to change the individual ticket price,&uot; said Bob Sturtz, Albert Lea Campus Foundation Board President. &uot;The purpose of the gala is to raise scholarship dollars for students; if we use up too much of the money raised on overhead, it defeats the purpose of the event.&uot;

One board member said that the event had lost its focus on raising money for student scholarships and had been much more of an annual party.

$250,000 of the money that had been raised at previous events will be rolled into the Albert Lea Gala Endowment Fund. The college will award money for scholarships from that money. The money will also be invested so that it builds through interest.

Heidi Schara, Riverland director of

development and foundation, said the college needed to reevaluate the way it raises funds.

&uot;The gala has been a wonderful thing for many years,&uot; Schara said. &uot;Students from all walks of life have benefited from that. But it’s been difficult to connect those people with the impact of what those charitable dollars are doing for those students. We’d like to build better life-long relationships between the donors and our students.&uot;

She said the board at Riverland has come up with a program called &uot;Riverland Live.&uot;

&uot;(The project goal) is connecting the people who believe in working with the college,&uot; Schara said. &uot;Riverland Live gives an opportunity for people to reintroduce themselves to the college.&uot;

The school also is planning on an initiative to contact alumni throughout the area, the state and the country, Schara said.

The board has not completely ruled out the possibility future galas, but the way it is structured at the moment wouldn’t benefit students like it should, according to Schara.

&uot;I want to stress how much time and thought the board put into this decision,&uot; Schara said. &uot;We understand how much people liked this night out.&uot;