University launches public phase of historic fundraising campaign

Jeremy Manier
Assistant Vice President of CommunicationsUniversity Communications

The University of Chicago has launched the public phase of the most ambitious fundraising campaign in its history.

The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact will raise $4.5 billion in support of goals that include enhanced support for faculty and researchers who are shaping fields of inquiry, distinctive educational opportunities for students at all levels, and innovative programs to enhance the University’s local and global reach and impact.  

With the start of the public phase, the University launched a new campaign website that includes detailed information on how alumni, parents and friends can contribute to the campaign, and how those donations will advance specific University initiatives of inquiry and impact.

“Each of us has benefitted through the work, the determination, the fearlessness, the generosity, and the belief in the future that built and sustained the University. Now it is our turn,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “Our responsibility is to do what the founders of this University did, and what the generations that followed them did. We must succeed far beyond reasonable expectations.”

To celebrate the start of the new campaign’s public phase, the University hosted an Oct. 29 event on campus to thank key supporters. This will be followed by programming for the global UChicago community throughout the next five years, beginning with events in 2015 from January to May in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London and Hong Kong, as well as a March 5 event in downtown Chicago. These events are open to all alumni, friends and families.

Campaign activities will help bolster engagement with the University’s 177,000 alumni, whose contributions in their chosen fields are an important part of the University’s impact around the world.

Campaign chair Joe Neubauer, MBA’65, a vice chair of the Board of Trustees, said his own transformational experience as a student who attended UChicago on a scholarship has shaped his approach to the campaign.

“A University of Chicago education puts not only one student on a powerful path forward, but it can also transform a whole family, and in some instances, a whole country,” Neubauer said. “I know, because I am one of those students. The University of Chicago changed my life. That’s why I agreed to chair this campaign.”

Campaign already breaking records

Already, the new campaign has attracted record-breaking gifts and pledges from alumni and friends in support of UChicago’s academic priorities. In fiscal year 2014, the University raised a record $511 million, bringing the campaign total to $2.2 billion. In addition, 41 percent of College alumni made donations in FY 2014, and more than 81,000 alumni engaged with the University in some way, though donations, volunteering or attending events—another all-time high.

“When you walk around campus and talk to our faculty, students, staff and alumni, you hear in their voices a sense of energy, confidence and pride. The word you hear most often is momentum,” said Andrew M. Alper, chair of the Board of Trustees. “This momentum did not happen by accident. It is the product of a powerful partnership between a gifted academic leadership team led by President Bob Zimmer, an engaged, informed and supportive Board of Trustees, and thousands of loyal and generous alumni, parents and friends.”

In the next five years, The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact will support a broad array of the University’s most innovative programs and initiatives. These include efforts aimed at strengthening the student experience, like No Barriers, a pioneering commitment to end student loans for undergraduates and support student success, and construction of a major new residence hall.

New projects supported by the campaign include the recently announced David M. Rubenstein Forum, envisioned as a technologically advanced hub for academic conferences and other gatherings, and the Gordon Parks Arts Hall at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, which will host programs in theater, music and the visual arts when it opens in 2015.

The campaign will support the University’s growing engagement with the city of Chicago through the Chicago Innovation Exchange and the Urban Education Institute, and its expanding global presence that includes new centers in Delhi and Hong Kong.

One vital impact of the campaign will be support for programs aimed at forging new disciplines and methodologies, including the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society and the Institute for Molecular Engineering. The Neubauer Collegium is designed to expand the boundaries of humanistic inquiry, with support for visiting scholars and collaborative projects that transcend individual disciplines. The Institute for Molecular Engineering unites multiple disciplines to develop new forms of engineering education and foster creative applications of molecular-level science, with potentially profound benefits for society.

The University will update supporters on campaign goals and progress through the campaign website and the Campaign Annual, a supplement to the November/December issue of the alumni magazine each year.

The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact is the University’s fifth major fundraising campaign. The most recent effort, The Chicago Initiative, ran from 2000–2008. The Chicago Initiative surpassed its $2 billion goal, eventually raising $2.38 billion.