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How Brown’s campaign stacks up

The view from three peer institutions

By and
Friday, October 21, 2005

When Brown launches the Campaign for Academic Enrichment on Saturday, it will join a long list of schools currently engaged in major fundraising efforts. An increasing number of universities are undertaking billion-dollar campaigns to draw top scholars, attract the brightest students and build world-class facilities.

These projects vary both in size and scope when compared to Brown’s. For example, other schools have framed fund-raising efforts around more targeted agendas, ranging from community outreach and involvement to physical expansion.

Three of Brown’s peer institutions – Vanderbilt University, the University of Chicago and Columbia University – are in the midst of their own campaigns.

VanderbiltThe same year Brown officials began to secure donors for the quiet phase of the University’s capital campaign, Vanderbilt University held a kickoff event in Nashville to open the public phase of its own campaign. Now, two and half years later, “Shape the Future: A Campaign for Vanderbilt” is on track to reach its $1.25 billion goal much earlier than expected.

The top priorities of the five-year campaign, which has raised $1.125 billion to date, are student scholarships and strengthening the faculty, according to Christy Pass-more, associate vice chancellor for the campaign. By June 2008, Vanderbilt hopes to have raised $300 million and $260 million, respectively, in those areas.

Passmore said Shape the Future would probably reach its goal within the next 10 months, about two years ahead of initial projections.

In some ways, Vanderbilt’s campaign is more like Brown’s than those of other Ivy League schools – Shape the Future has garnered more than 115,000 gifts and is analogous in scale to Brown’s campaign. Vanderbilt possesses an endowment similar to Brown’s as well – the school reported an endowment of about $2.3 billion in 2004, compared to Brown’s $1.65 billion figure listed that year.

Structurally, however, Van-derbilt’s campaign differs significantly from Brown’s. The university organized its effort into several separate divisions, with entities such as the College of Arts and Science, the athletics department and the law school forming individual campaign committees and setting their own goals.

“Some will raise more than their goal, others will raise less,” Passmore said, adding that each committee is responsible for meeting an individual target.

A single division, the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which includes hospitals, a medical school and a nursing school, accounts for half of the campaign. For example, $76 million was raised for a new facility for the children’s hospital, which opened in early 2004.

Given the sizes of the two institutions, it seems unlikely that Brown will have as large a pool of donors as Vanderbilt. Brown has three schools – the College, Medical School and Graduate School – as compared to Vanderbilt’s 10. As of last year, Vanderbilt had about 500 more undergraduates than Brown but more than double the number of graduate and professional students.

Though the campaign has been in progress for several years, donors remain enthusiastic about contributing, Passmore said.

“I can’t say that I’m seeing any signs of volunteer or donor fatigue, just because there’s something new going on every day,” she said.

The current stage of Shape the Future is being run the same way as the early stages, Passmore said.

“Since the day we launched, we have run full throttle,” she said. “We’ve set some pretty ambitious goals.” About three times every year during the campaign, Vanderbilt officials have taken scholarship recipients on the road to tell their stories at fundraising events in “key cities.”

Vanderbilt’s last effort, the six-year, $500 million “Strength for the Future” campaign, ended in 1995.

University of ChicagoThree and a half years into its “Chicago Initiative,” the University of Chicago’s capital campaign has hit the $1.3 billion mark. The Initiative aims to bring the total to $2 billion in the next year and a half, far surpassing Brown’s estimated goal in its new campaign.

This year has been the most successful in the history of fundraising at the university, with $217 million raised thus far. “We are moving at an aggressive pace,” said Leslie Bardo, director of creative services for the university’s development office.

The campaign’s focus is “human capital,” he said, with funds being divided among three main areas: faculty support, student aid and community partnership.

In a non-traditional fund-raising goal, UChicago intends to raise a minimum of $50 million to improve urban education in the university’s neighborhood, the South Side. Through its Urban Education Initiative, UChicago plans to open additional charter schools – it already operates one – and fund a pre-collegiate program for public school students taught by members of UChicago’s faculty.

“It really is kind of groundbreaking,” Bardo said. “It will serve as a model for urban education in Chicago and throughout the country.”

The UEI also provides scholarships to 20 of the top students in the Chicago public school system each year.

Another priority of UChicago’s campaign is $289 million for financial aid and fellowships for undergraduates and graduate students. To increase giving for financial aid, traditionally a challenge for campaign organizers, the university launched the Trustee Scholarship Challenge, in which the university’s trustees match $1 for every $2 donation for undergraduate scholarships. This commitment from the university “gets people excited about what we’re doing,” Bardo said. Brown had a similar program in the 1980s, the “Challenge Years” campaign where gifts to the University were matched by donations made by Chancellor Emetrius Art Joukowsky ’55 P’87 and Professor Emetria Martha Sharp Joukowsky ’58 P’87.

Another $86 million will go toward the creation of a center for the arts, in an attempt to “encourage creative interaction and to attract the pioneers of artistic creativity,” she said. The new space will include studios and practice rooms for students and faculty.

The Initiative’s third priority, to attract and support top faculty, requires an additional $324 million on top of the $78 million already raised.

The Initiative sponsors an on-campus event each spring for alumni and friends with lectures and recognition of major donors. The university also holds annual donor events in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 2004 UChicago’s endowment was listed as $3.6 billion.

ColumbiaColumbia University is over a year into the quiet phase of a capital campaign that will seek to raise “somewhere in the range of 3.5 to 4 billion dollars,” said Jerome Kisslinger, director of communications for development and alumni relations.

The unnamed campaign began in July 2004 – just four years after Columbia completed its last campaign, the public phase of which lasted from 1990 to 2000. That effort raised about $2.5 billion, Kisslinger said.

The current stage of the campaign is “very much a time for planning and consultation,” Kisslinger said. “It’s really about at this point identifying needs and opportunities and sorting it out, and that process is not done.”

Columbia plans to take the campaign public sometime in 2007, he said.

Funds raised in the current campaign may ultimately help pay for Columbia’s proposed expansion into the Manhattan-ville neighborhood of West Harlem, several blocks uptown from the Morningside Heights campus. Columbia officials, citing a pressing need for more space, have proposed that a new 18-acre campus be built over 25 to 30 years. However, Columbia’s plan for the area has not been approved by the city, and the university does not currently own all of the real estate it wishes to develop.

The capital campaign has not been linked with the proposed expansion, Kisslinger said. “We need to prepare for that kind of growth regardless of whether Manhattanville happens,” he said.

Kisslinger said the university-wide campaign will be “a big tent – sort of an umbrella – for a number of more specific initiatives,” based at different schools and other entities within the university.

“In addition to those individual school-based efforts there will be cross-cutting, university-wide messages and themes,” he said.

Kisslinger noted that though themes have not been settled on, “at almost any major American university, you’re going to have many of the same themes.”

At over 23,000 in 2004, Columbia’s total student enrollment – which includes undergraduate, graduate and professional students – dwarfs Brown’s. Columbia’s endowment was listed as $4.5 billion in 2004.

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