The Corps of Cadets wait in the barracks before the parade. The school announced Saturday its foundation has surpassed its $175 million goal by more than 40 percent. Staff/File 

By Michael Pronzato

As Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa heads for the exits, he is leaving the school in solid financial shape.

The Citadel Foundation has announced the results of its six-year, $175 million fundraising drive — a goal greater than anything the school previously attempted and one set with its 175th anniversary in mind.

But the donations kept coming, and The Citadel said Saturday it has raised more than $250 million -- 20,784 donors contributed.

Rosa called the result "astonishing," adding, “This historic campaign will help ensure a Citadel education remains accessible to men and women with a profound interest in leadership learning and academic excellence through the values-based education we provide.”

The public military college said the proceeds will go toward leadership and the cadet experience, academic excellence, athletics, facilities and strategic growth.

The proceeds already are making a difference, enabling the new construction of Bastian Hall, future home of The Citadel's business school. They also will help the school weather the drop in state funding that has unfolded in recent years, said John Dorrian, The Citadel's vice president for communications and marketing.

"This way of doing business is going to be very important to The Citadel and important to colleges across the state," he said.

Bud Watts, chairman of The Citadel Foundation Board of Directors and co-chair of the fundraising campaign, said the $175 million goal was considered ambitious but achievable because of the loyalty and commitment of Citadel alumni and friends.

“Surpassing this goal by such a wide margin is a remarkable testament to both their generosity and the depth of their support for The Citadel and its mission of educating principled leaders,” Watts said.

The foundation is a separate nonprofit organization created in 1964 to provide financial support for The Citadel. The money is used for scholarships, recruiting talented students and professors, new technology and facilities and athletic and cultural events.

Watts, who was in The Citadel's Class of 1983, also credited the foundation’s staff for its work in matching donors' interests with the college's strategic needs. They were helped by a steering committee with 33 volunteers.

“The dedication and commitment of our alumni and friends speaks volumes to how they feel about the institution and its position of importance in South Carolina and our nation in developing principled leaders,” Watts said.

Dr. Jay Dowd III, CEO of The Citadel Foundation and vice president of Institutional Advancement at the college, said the result says a lot about how the school's alumni and other supporters feel about the importance of The Citadel's work developing principled leaders.

“I could not be more proud of the efforts put forth by the team of professionals at The Citadel Foundation to meet and exceed the campaign priorities," Dowd said. "A true team effort.”

Rosa plans to retire on June 30. The Citadel's Board of Visitors announced last month that the college's 20th president will be Gen. Glenn M. Walters, currently the 34th assistant commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Citadel's fundraising success both mirrors and expands upon the College of Charleston's recent success. The college's campaign, which finished in June 2016, raised $138.7 million, more than its $125 million goal. Almost 24,000 people contributed.

Reach Robert Behre at 843-937-5771. Follow him on Twitter @RobertFBehre.