University fundraising campaign reaches $1 billion milestone

Media Credit: Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

University President Steven Knapp proposes a toast to the Class of 2017 at the senior class toast and gift presentation Friday.

Updated May 19, 2017 at 6:19 p.m.

The University’s landmark fundraising campaign has reached its $1 billion goal, Board of Trustees Chairman Nelson Carbonell announced at the senior class toast and gift presentation Friday.

The campaign was the largest fundraising effort in University history and the signature project of University President Steven Knapp’s drive to use philanthropy to fund University projects.

Knapp said it was fitting to celebrate the announcement with the graduating senior class.

“We make history through you,” he told the graduates. “It is you going out into the world that is going to be the way the University makes history into and beyond the foreseeable future.”

Officials had branded the fundraising drive as the “Making History” campaign.

The University reached the $1 billion goal more than a year earlier than originally scheduled and less than three months before Knapp leaves the presidency at the end of July.

Since the start of the campaign in 2014, more than 65,000 donors have contributed to the goal, more than 40,000 of whom are alumni. In the campaign’s final push this academic year, students and alumni were encouraged to donate in events like the annual Flag Day, a day long celebration where students wrote thank you letters to donors.

Money raised from the campaign funded student aid, libraries, athletics and academic and construction projects. Officials touted the campaign as a way to fund University priorities without relying as heavily on revenue raised from tuition.

More than 18,000 donors contributed to student aid as part of the fundraising drive, providing more than $144 million for undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, according to a University release Friday.

The campaign also created 20 new endowed faculty positions and helped fund major construction projects like the Milken Institute School of Public Health building and the Science and Engineering Hall, which opened in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

As officials closed in on the fundraising goal Knapp traveled around the globe this semester, making stops in Miami, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Mexico City and parts of the Middle East to court prospective donors.

The senior toast was held as part of the University’s week-long Commencement celebration to thank graduates for donating to the Senior Class Gift campaign.

Before the ceremony, the University’s official Twitter account posted a video announcing the campaign had crossed the $1 billion mark. The tweet was later deleted after about a half hour later and then reposted after the announcement was made.

In the video, students, faculty and staff thanked donors for contributing to the effort.

The campaign raised about $100 million in about the last six months, despite the loss of the Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Aristide Collins, who left the position in January to run incoming University President Thomas LeBlanc’s transition team. Matt Manfra, the associate vice president of development and alumni relations, took over the role.

Donors will still be able to contribute to the campaign until it officially ends June 30, according to the release.

This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the $1 billion announcement would mark the end of the fundraising campaign. The campaign will continue collecting donations until June 30. The Hatchet also incorrectly reported that the effort had raised about $100 million in slightly more than four months. The campaign raised that amount in about the last six months. We regret these errors.

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