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University hopes to raise $4 billion in Victors for Michigan campaign

Tracy Ko/Daily
University President Mary Sue Coleman speaks at the press conference for the Victors for Michigan campaign at Hill Auditorium Thursday. Buy this photo

By Sam Gringlas, Daily Staff Reporter
and Jennifer Calfas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 7, 2013

The University announced Thursday that the Victors for Michigan campaign will be the largest fundraising drive for a public institution in history — with an ambitious $4 billion goal.

Victors for Michigan, the University’s sixth major fundraising campaign, will launch Nov. 8. The University’s last campaign, The Michigan Difference, raised $3.2 billion between 2000 and 2008 — surpassing its original goal of $2.5 billion.

University President Mary Sue Coleman said last winter that the primary priority for the campaign will be student support through financial aid. At Coleman’s leadership breakfast last month, Coleman reiterated that $1 billion in campaign funds will be focused on student support.

Just like the last campaign, Coleman said in an interview after the event that passing the $4-billion mark is possible.

“It is always possible that if the campaign is phenomenally successful, then maybe midway we could raise it,” Coleman said. “There’s a lot of analysis that goes into doing it, but I feel really good about this number. It’s a very audacious campaign.”

Campaign organizers have made students central to campaign strategy, not only creating goals for student support, but also in involving students in campaign planning and marketing. The Office of Development created a student campaign committee — the first of its kind at the University — consisting of 19 members from various undergraduate and graduate schools to assist in the fundraising and planning process.

The campaign will also focus on raising funds for developing a more engaged learning environment in the classroom and producing ideas to aid worldwide problems. After the event, University Provost Martha Pollack said the three priorities for the campaign intersect, meaning that students could participate in research projects addressing global issues, and gain valuable learning experiences outside the classroom.

“As the chief academic officer, I couldn’t be happier about the priorities,” Pollack said. “I think those three priorities are just perfectly aligned with what we want to be as an educational institution.”

The University’s newest campaign launches against a backdrop of depressed state appropriations and rising tuition rates. In June, the University's Board of Regents approved a 1.1 and 3.2 percent increase in tuition for in-state and out-of-state students respectively — the lowest 29 years.

“We believe that by judiciously controlling our costs and tuition increases, while also committing university funds for financial aid, we can join with donors to make it possible for the best students, from any socio-economic background, to afford to get a Michigan education,” Regent Andrea Fischer Newman (R) said in a statement.

Many institutions across the country are carrying out similar fundraising drives — but the University's goal is closer to many private schools than public peers. Harvard University is currently in the midst of the largest fundraising drive in the history of higher education — with an ambitious $6.5 billion goal.