After fundraising milestone, 'U' to hold celebration today

By Kyle Swanson, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 13, 2008

After setting a University record by surpassing the Michigan Difference campaign’s 2004 goal of raising $2.5 billion, University President Mary Sue Coleman and administrators are planning to spend today celebrating the achievement with donors and fundraisers.

Clif Reeder / Daily
The Museum of Art, which has taken on a $41.9 million fundraising effort as part of the Michigan Difference campaign. This money has gone towards the construction of the Frankel Wing, renovations to the existing museum and other projects.

University officials will host a Campaign Finale Convocation at Hill Auditorium between 2:30 and 4 p.m. today to mark the campaign's close. It is free and open to the public.

At the event, campaign chairman Richard Rogel, one of about 1,400 fundraising volunteers, will announce the total amount raised in the effort. Coleman and several donors will also speak at the event. Harry Smith of the CBS Early Show and Andrea Joyce, an NBC sports anchor and Smith's wife, will emcee the event.

Following the celebration, a reception will be held for the campaign's donors at Crisler Arena.

Though the exact fundraising total has not yet been released, all indicators suggest that more than $3 billion has been raised since the campaign's start in 2004. Coleman said in an interview earlier this week that the University had already broken a national record with its total.

“I’ve just finished a capital campaign where I’ve raised more money than any public university in the history of the United States,” she said.

The University of California at Los Angeles, which raised $3.06 billion in a similar campaign, currently holds the record for the largest fundraising campaign by a public university. At the end of June, the University of Michigan reported that $2.99 billion had been raised. The Michigan Difference campaign does not officially end until Dec. 31.

Coleman said the amount of money raised surpassed her expectations.

“We have been fortunate to have generous, generous donors to the University,” Coleman said. “[It was] beyond what I ever believed was possible in this capital campaign.”

Jerry May, vice president for development, said 99 percent of the funds raised were allocated by the donor for specific projects. He said more than $910 million has been endowed for almost 2,000 new scholarship funds and 185 new professorships. Twenty-two campus construction projects have also received funding through the campaign.

Since its inception, more than 364,000 donors have given to the campaign. May said about three quarters of the money raised came from individuals, and of that three quarters came from alumni.

May said about 15 to 20 percent of alumni donate to the University during any given year, but that about 60 percent of alumni donate at some point in their lifetime.

Looking to the future, Coleman said the University’s 450,000 alumni provide a “silver lining” in an uncertain economy. She described alums that don’t give as “a target of opportunity for new revenue,” and emphasized that staying connected with recent alums and current students will help build relationships for future giving.

“I think for the times that we’re going into, for us to start letting our students understand that one way they can help their alma mater is to give back when they go out and have careers because they’ll be helping the next generation of students, just like somebody gave for them,” she said. “We always have to be looking for the next sort of wave to catch.”

May said that while the University won’t be putting fundraising on the back burner any time soon, for now he is focused on thanking those who gave during this campaign.

“We will always rely on philanthropy at very high levels,” he said. “This is a time to thank the many generous people and corporations and foundations for all they’ve done and all they continue to do.”