UF campaign raises more than $1.7 billion
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 8:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 8:12 p.m.
The University of Florida announced Friday that it raised more than $1.7 billion in the Florida Tomorrow campaign, beating its goal for private donations at a time of reduced state support.
FLORIDA TOMORROW CAMPAIGN
* The University of Florida's seven-year fundraising campaign received more than $1.7 billion in gifts, pledges and commitments, $201 million more than its $1.5 million goal.
* UF's donors established more than 100 new endowed faculty positions, added 250 Florida Opportunity scholarships and created 15 new facilities and centers.
* The campaign received a record number of donations for UF, with a total of about 865,000.
* There were more than 506,000 gifts of nearly $590 million from UF alumni.
* More than 25,000 students made contributions totaling nearly $1.7 million.
* Faculty, staff and retired staff
contributed more than $70 million.
* Floridians donated more than $1.23 billion, nearly three-quarters of the total raised.
* New donors gave more than 102,000 gifts
SOURCE: University of Florida
The seven-year campaign beat UF's $1.5 billion goal by about $201 million. UF President Bernie Machen said the campaign started when the economy was doing well, gaining importance during the economic downturn and state funding cuts of recent years.
"I don't think it's going to turn back around," he said. "The reality for a university (that) has aspirations of being really good, they're going to have to have private support."
Florida Tomorrow was one of the 10 most successful campaigns by a public university, said Tom Mitchell, UF's vice president for development and alumni affairs. About 865,000 donations, pledges and commitments were received, funding such things as scholarships, new buildings and endowed professorships.
UF marked the campaign's end Friday with events from a breakfast for students to a gala for donors. Two individual donations were announced during the day: a $10 million anonymous donation for the Florida Opportunity Scholars program and a $5 million contribution by UF trustee Dr. Steven Scott to fund a new medical education building.
Machen started the Florida Opportunity Scholars program, which is being named after him and his wife, Chris, at the request of the donors. The program provides scholarships to students who are the first in their families to attend college.
One of those students, senior accounting major Aynesse Geffrard, is the daughter of Haitian immigrants. The program allowed her to attend UF while taking out only a small loan to pay for summer classes, she said.
"After four years, I can graduate virtually debt-free," she said.
UF announced Scott's donation at the site of the planned medical education building, next to the Health Professions/Nursing/Pharmacy Complex. The $45 million, 94,000-square-foot building is slated to open in early 2015.
Dr. Michael Good, dean of the UF College of Medicine, said the building is designed for a new curriculum that focuses on small-group learning and will help advance the college.
"Our facilities are old, and they are tired," he said, "and to achieve this national greatness, and indeed to implement our new curriculum, we will need a new educational facility."
A college alumnus made an initial donation last year toward the building and requested that it be named after the late Dr. George T. Harrell, the college's founding dean. The building's two-story commons will be named after Scott and his wife, Rebecca.
The Florida Tomorrow campaign has increased UF's endowment to the current $1.3 billion from $836 million when the campaign started in 2005. The endowment helps UF pay for such things as endowed professorships. In fact, more than 100 endowed professorships have been funded through the campaign.
One of those faculty members with an endowed professorship, archaeology professor Kenneth Sassaman, said the funding also pays for graduate students and the equipment they need to conduct research.
It's difficult to get funding for archaeology, he said, so the endowment ensures continuity in research.
"For people that study the long-term past, it's nice to have a long-term future," he said.
The donor who funded the professorship, Hyatt Brown, said he and his family members graduated from UF and wanted to support its faculty and students.
"The bottom line is the product here is students," he said. "So if you have great professors who have adequate financing, you're going to produce a superior product."
The Florida Tomorrow campaign was launched in July 2005, starting with a two-year "silent phase" before being publicly announced. The economic downturn hasn't affected donations over the past few years, Mitchell said.
"The momentum is just continuing," he said. "We're receiving more gifts today than we ever have."
Machen said he's not worried that the success of the campaign will give more reason for the state to cut university funding.
"I don't think that the state will look at it that way," he said. "I think that they look at it as a university that's trying to accomplish what it can for the people of Florida."
Florida Tomorrow was the university's third comprehensive campaign. The first two raised $392 million and $850 million, respectively.
Mitchell said each campaign has roughly doubled the previous one in size.
"It's not too far out of reach that the next one could be double" the amount collected by Florida Tomorrow, Mitchell said.
Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.thecampussun.com for more stories on the University of Florida.