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Early in the 20th century, Orville and Wilbur Wright were the builders of something that seemed unremarkable, just a tool for the common man and woman. Then, through flashes of brilliance and years of hard work, they invented a way to make what was once a bicycle soar. They gave coming generations wings upon which to rise—and with which to shine.

Perhaps that is Wright State University’s greatest connection to our namesakes, and our greatest legacy: we exist to take those who may at first seem unremarkable and help them soar. I will be frank: Wright State is not, and will never be, Harvard or Stanford or Yale. Those are extraordinary institutions, but they serve students who already come from extraordinary circumstances with extraordinary resources. They begin at the summit. I believe that Wright State is an extraordinary institution that serves as both an opportunity and a guide to reach that summit for the students who will come to believe they can make the ascent.

At Wright State, we still have limitless passion for the unique transformative power of higher education—and no illusions that any of the old models or the old assumptions are working in the 21st century. The transformation—when it happens—now happens in a new landscape and a new economic reality. A university education must be a real-world-relevant and an always-innovative partnership between students who want to rise and faculty who want them to shine. It should never be merely a given or a fallback or a way to pass the time waiting for what comes next. It must matter. The university must lift its students without allowing them to unwittingly dig a financial hole. The education—and the inspiration—we provide must lead clearly and effectively to a fulfilling and rewarding life.

At Wright State, we are leading the way as a new breed of university: continually evolving to deliver an education that is eminently relevant and financially accessible and that meets the changing needs of students, the real-world economy, and our collective future. As a state university, we are compelled to serve, helping our students achieve, bettering our community, and solving real problems. And we are focused on real results. Taking our lead from the pioneers of flight, we will be known for our innovation, our diversity, our accessibility, and our entrepreneurial spirit.

We can do none of that without you. The vital contribution of philanthropy to our mission is an equally powerful outcome of the new economic landscape—to help students reach their goals without the great weight of student debt, and to provide academics and the facilities to power those goals, requires your vision and your generosity. It is simply no longer possible to go it alone.

Through this campaign, we will level the playing field for our students, unveiling a world of possibilities and reachable dreams. Our time is now. With you as our partner, we will lead the way in American higher education. We will make the investments necessary to help all students achieve, serve our community, and advance applied research that answers important questions and creates jobs.

Join with us to rise and to shine. The best is yet to come.

David R. Hopkins President