Elliott School fundraises eight-figure amount for two consecutive years

Media Credit: Tim Biondo | Hatchet Photographer

Reuben Brigety, the dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, led the school to an eight-figure donation total for the second year in a row.

The Elliott School of International Affairs has had more success with fundraising in the past two years than it has in 20 years.

Officials said the international affairs school raked in an eight-figure sum in fiscal year 2018, one year after the school raised more than $11 million. The two-year streak is the first time in the school’s history that officials have brought in two eight-figure amounts back-to-back, officials said.

More than 1,100 donors contributed to the Elliott School in fiscal year 2017, according to the school’s annual report. The school’s 2018 annual report does not include specific information about the school’s philanthropic efforts.

University spokesman Jason Shevrin declined to say the amount the school raised in fiscal year 2018. But he said the accomplishment was made possible because of the school’s donors and through collaborative partnerships among the school’s faculty, staff and partners, like the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

“Fundraising is a team sport and it’s important that everyone shares a similar vision and is moving forward in the same direction,” he said in an email.

He said some donors gave gifts for specific purposes last year, while others donated generally. He said the donors are “part of a larger effort to expand opportunities for passionate students and world-class faculty in the Elliott School and GW at large.”

Shevrin declined to say what the largest amount was that the Elliott School has ever raised. He declined to say what Dean Reuben Brigety’s role is in fundraising for the school.

At an Elliott School event earlier this month, Brigety said the dean’s fund – the fund used for supporting student activities – received “many” contributions that went toward building up the student experience through events like career networking trips to New York City and Chicago during fiscal year 2018.

Some of the funds raised in fiscal year 2017 went toward funding 52 graduate student fellowships, according to the school’s annual report. More than $6.6 million was raised at the school in fiscal year 2016.

“The fact that I get to go around and tell the Elliott School community and, frankly, people who have no connection to the Elliott School about the amazing students we have here and the program that we’re doing, it is very satisfying,” Brigety said. “And I think frankly that story resonates with our fundraising efforts.”

Faculty in the Elliott School said the extra dollars will improve the quality of the school’s education by investing in professors.

Henry Nau, a professor of international affairs, said increased funding could mean that the Elliott School will be able to hire more skilled, well-known faculty to attract top students. He said a few professors left the international affairs school last year because other universities were able to outbid GW’s salary offerings.

“It would make all the difference in the world,” he said.

Nau said the University as a whole has never been skilled at fundraising and administrators have not taken full advantage of the fundraising draw professors can have. Still, GW raised $115 million last year, the fifth-highest amount ever raised.

He said that if the Elliott School wants to have more success fundraising, officials should tout world-renowned faculty who can excite donors about the work GW is producing in academia.

Before Brigety came to GW in 2015, former University President Steven Knapp required deans to spend 40 percent of their job fundraising. He selected deans based on their fundraising prowess, among other features.

Steven Livingston, a professor of media and public affairs international affairs, said Brigety’s achievement in fundraising demonstrates his skills as a leader of the school.

“He has brought a new level of energy and an imaginative focus to the Elliott School,” he said in an email. “I think the fundraising accomplishments reflect those qualities.”

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