UChicago annual fundraising reaches record total of $511 million

Alumni engagement reaches new high as campaign starts public phase

Jeremy Manier
Assistant Vice President of CommunicationsUniversity Communications

Broad support for the University of Chicago’s academic priorities by alumni, parents and friends resulted in a record $511 million in new gifts and pledges in fiscal 2014, adding momentum for the University’s new fundraising campaign, which will begin its public phase on Oct. 29.

This year’s 11 percent increase in giving included funds from a $90 million gift to support cancer research, a $25 million gift to support a new arts hall at the University’s Laboratory Schools, and $15 million to build a nanofabrication laboratory. The unparalleled giving will support the continued advancement of research and education in units across the University.

The total surpasses the previous record set in 2009, when alumnus and entrepreneur David Booth donated $300 million. President Robert J. Zimmer said the growth in donations is encouraging for the launch this fall of the public phase of “The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact,” which has a goal of $4.5 billion.

“The depth of commitment among the University’s supporters has never been greater, and it comes at an important time for the University of Chicago,” Zimmer said. “We are grateful for their growing enthusiasm and support, which is ensuring the continued eminence of our academic programs and helping our scholars make an ever greater impact around the world.”

To celebrate the start of the new campaign’s public phase on Oct. 29, the University will host an on-campus event to thank key supporters. This will be followed by programming for the global UChicago community throughout the coming year. 

This year also brought major milestones for alumni giving and engagement, said Ken Manotti, vice president for alumni relations and development. More than 41 percent of College alumni made donations in FY 2014, reaching a new high that represents one of the highest rates of undergraduate alumni giving in the country. In addition, since the beginning of the campaign's quiet phase, more than 81,000 alumni have engaged with the University in some way, though donations, volunteering or attending events—another all-time high, reflecting broad engagement and interest among University of Chicago alumni.

The University’s Senior Class Gift campaign also set new records of participation and overall giving, exceeding 1,000 donors for the first time. Similarly, record-breaking gifts came from the Law School Class of 2014, which raised $38,995, and Chicago Booth, which raised $104,160.

”This has been a phenomenal year in terms of the engagement and generosity of our alumni, parents and friends,” Manotti said. “We want to sustain and enrich the relationships between the University and its community of alumni. This year’s results are encouraging for our fundraising progress and for the future success of that broader alumni engagement effort.”

The largest donations in FY 2014 included a gift from the Ludwig Cancer Research Foundation that increased the foundation’s support to $90 million to fund metastatic cancer research at the University of Chicago Division of Biological Sciences. A $25 million gift from the George Lucas Foundation will support construction of the Gordon Parks Arts Hall at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools; the arts hall is scheduled to open in 2015. The Pritzker Foundation’s $15 million gift to the University’s Institute for Molecular Engineering will fund construction of a 12,000-square-foot nanofabrication facility, which will support work on new applications in computing, health care, communications, smart materials and more. This brings the Pritzker Foundation’s total support for the Institute to $25 million.

Other gifts include two $10 million commitments to the University’s Urban Education Institute to improve urban schooling in Chicago and across the nation. The first, from Chicago philanthropists James and Paula Crown, was announced in October 2013. The second, from University trustee Steven Kersten and his wife, Priscilla, was announced in January 2014