With a drumroll and streamers flying in the air, the head of the University’s Michigan Difference Campaign announced Friday that more than $3.1 billion has been raised during the campaign, numbering it the largest fundraising effort in the University’s history and the largest ever accomplished by a U.S. public university.
The campaign broke the record set by the University of California at Los Angeles, which raised $3.06 billion during a 10-year span from 1997 to 2006. The University of Michigan’s campaign was first made public in 2004.
Campaign Chair Rich Rogel made the announcement at Hill Auditorium before staff, alumni and donors who gathered to celebrate the campaign’s success. Donors told their stories, University President Mary Sue Coleman made comments and philanthropy expert Paul Schervish gave a keynote speech.
“In addition to all this generosity, you have helped change the culture of public higher education,” Coleman told donors. “You have agreed that for a great public university to succeed and truly make a difference, it requires private support.”
NBC Sports anchor Andrea Joyce, a University alum, and her husband Harry Smith of the CBS Early Show emceed the event.
Students were also involved in the event, which included a performance by the Michigan Marching Band and a song from the musical “Rent,” performed by a group in the School of Music, Theater and Dance.
About 364,000 donors have given to the campaign, which doesn’t officially end until Dec. 31. The money has added more than $910 million to the University’s endowment, helped fund 22 construction projects, and endowed 185 professorships and 2,000 scholarships.
In his address, Schervish called philanthropy “an important human reality” and said those who donated did so “for care of students, for care of the world.”
Several donors, including influential labor and employment lawyer Curtis Mack, told their stories about why they gave to the University.
“I gave to the University because someone gave and made it possible for me to come,” Mack said. “I’m glad all of us decided to make a difference at Michigan.”
Coleman thanked donors and called the University “an investment unlike any other,” adding that in today’s struggling statewide economy, private donations are essential to the University’s operations.
“It is an enterprise that advances worthy ideals, creates productive jobs and opens the doors to infinite possibilities for the students who walk through them,” she said. “Hail to you, for being the Michigan Difference.”
The event also served to thank the approximately 1,400 volunteers who helped coordinate the campaign.
Jerry May, the University’s vice president for development, said University administrators played a crucial role in the success of the campaign.
“I can’t understate the importance of the president of the University and of the deans and of the directors of programs around the University,” he said. “I can’t understate their tremendous support to the fundraising process.”
Correction appended: A previous version of this story said Harry Smith was a University of Michigan alum. He is not.