University in “silent phase” of new fundraising campaign

The University has begun a fundraising campaign to raise several billion dollars, reaching out to alumni and donors around the world.

By Alex Hays

The University has started a major fundraising campaign to raise several billion dollars, according to several sources within the administration. The campaign will increase the endowment and support financial aid, among other things.

The University has not yet publicly announced the initiative. Dean of the College John Boyer said that the campaign, which began in the summer of 2012, is currently in the “silent phase,” during which University leaders try to raise about 40 percent of the target goal before making the campaign public. Throughout this period, the University negotiates with big-ticket donors, he said.

According to University spokesperson Jeremy Manier, the University normally runs large campaigns like this once a decade.

The last large fundraising campaign, which occurred in 2008, raised $2.5 billion, according to Boyer. He said that the goal of this campaign is to raise “several billion dollars…. More than we raised last time.”

Executive Director of Annual Giving Bridget Haggerty estimates that large-scale donations will make up a significant part of the campaign. She said the University hopes to go public with the campaign within the next year, but wouldn’t comment on at what stage the campaign is currently.

President Robert J. Zimmer has been meeting with large groups of alumni around the world to speak about his goals for the University, according to Haggerty. “He’s in year two of [connecting with alumni] and we expect that he will continue to do that for the next several years,” she said.

The extra outreach has already started to pay off, as Haggerty indicated that there has been an increase in the number of donors and the number of dollars raised over the past year. The University raised $255.8 million in donations in 2012, according to an article by Crain’s Chicago Business, compared to $246.7 million in 2011. Haggerty attributed the increase in giving to alumni being generally more pleased with the University’s vision, so that “they feel more inclined to give.” She added that younger alumni are giving back to the University.

Five hundred million dollars of the money raised, Boyer said, will go to the College, with at least $250 million going to support the endowment. Boyer said that he hoped to use the other $250 million “for the good of the College,” targeting areas like financial aid, international and career programs, and creating more named-chair positions for exemplary Core teachers.

—Additional reporting by Ankit Jain