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July 6, 2006

Campaign goal upped to $2 billion

With high expectations of reaching its $1 billion fundraising campaign goal months ahead of schedule, Pitt is celebrating — by doubling it.

Pitt’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution June 23 establishing a new goal of $2 billion, making Pitt’s one of only 14 university capital campaigns nationally that have raised or are trying to raise that amount. It’s also the highest publicly announced campaign goal ever set in Pennsylvania, Pitt officials said.

This is the second time that the University has doubled its fundraising aspirations during the 10-year-old campaign.

To date, Pitt has raised more than $960 million in gifts and pledges in a campaign that began its “quiet” phase in 1997, with the public phase launched in October 2000. Dubbed “Discover a World of Possibilities,” the campaign hit its original $500 million goal in June 2002, a year ahead of schedule.

Pitt officials said the campaign is expected to have raised $1 billion by the end of the calendar year, six months ahead of its June 30, 2007, target.

The University has not set a target date for reaching the $2 billion plateau. But Albert Novak Jr., vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement, predicted that Pitt would reach the new goal before the middle of the next decade. “It will take us less time to [raise] the second billion than it did the first,” he told reporters following the June 23 trustees meeting, citing the continuing commitment of alumni and friends, as well as his experienced staff of fundraisers.

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg also expressed confidence that the $2 billion goal will be reached. He noted the campaign’s continuing momentum and the ability to attract dollars from non-local sources as indicators that the new objective will be attained.

More than half the dollars raised so far are from donations outside the Pittsburgh area, he said. “It will be a challenge to reach out to [supporters] at more distant locations. But it’s a big world and a big country. We certainly have not been to all the places where we can attract support.”

Nordenberg added, “We’ll see how long it takes. But we haven’t been very good at predicting the time it takes so far,” having twice over-estimated the time needed to reach a goal, he said. “We have a target goal in terms of dollars. But it isn’t the dollar amount that’s important, it’s the ways in which we use these dollars. If you look at peer universities, in terms of dollars for scholarship support, endowed professors and chairs and faculty recruitment and retention, we’re in a catch-up game.”

In response to a reporter’s question, Nordenberg said that he had no plans to leave his post as chancellor, which he has held for 11 years, prior to the completion of the capital campaign.

“I continue to feel lucky to have this job. And I continue to feel energized by the opportunities and challenges of this job,” he said. “We have a great team here at Pitt and I hope I’ve contributed to the [University’s success]. This is such a big, interesting, wonderful place, where every day I meet people and learn something. I don’t feel any less energized than I was five years ago.”

According to press materials distributed at the June 23 trustees meeting, the campaign so far boasts more than 113,000 individual donors, of whom 59 percent are alumni. More than 190 donors have made commitments of at least $1 million, including 36 who are first-time givers to Pitt.

Other highlights of the campaign include establishing:

• 325 new endowed scholarship funds for a total of 742, an increase of 78 percent in the number of such funds;

• 29 new endowed fellowships for a total of 87, an increase of 50 percent;

• 15 new endowed professorships for a total of 49, an increase of 44 percent;

• 51 new endowed chairs for a total of 91, an increase of 128 percent, and

• 422 new named miscellaneous faculty and student resource endowments used to support such activities and programs as research projects, research travel, book purchases and student academic projects for a total of 762 of these endowments — an increase of 124 percent.

In its resolution upping the campaign’s goal, Pitt’s board noted that the University “is faced with constrained governmental funding for student financial aid, research, programs and facilities and must continue to attract private gifts and grants to support its important mission.”

Nordenberg picked up on that theme in a prepared statement released at the board meeting. “As we continue our determined climb even higher in the ranks of the country’s finest research universities, we are competing with stronger and better-funded institutions, even as we are moving through difficult economic times. By again doubling our campaign goal — this time to $2 billion — we are signaling our intention to take full advantage of our existing momentum and to attract the resources we will need to capture Pitt’s full potential.”

John Baker, president of the University Senate, told the University Times that Nordenberg’s argument was persuasive. “An ambitious fundraising campaign that builds private support may well be the best way to deal with the continuing problem with budget appropriations, particularly in this state, where support for higher education has consistently lagged behind the nation.”

In other actions, trustees:

• Approved raising the safety, security and transportation fee for full-time and part-time students at the Pittsburgh campus from $75 to $90 per term, effective this fall.

• Approved increasing the Pittsburgh campus’s computing and network services fee to $150 for each full-time student (a $20 per term increase) and $75 for each part-time student (up by $10 per term), effective this fall.

• Approved increasing the student activities fee at Pitt’s Bradford campus by $10 to $85 per term for full-time students, effective this fall.

• Voted to rename the Biomedical Science Tower — the nine-floor building straddling Lothrop, Darragh and Terrace streets — the Thomas E. Starzl Biomedical Science Tower, and

• Voted to name a fossil-rich, 4,680-acre Wyoming site, donated to the University Honors College last fall, the Allen L. Cook Spring Creek Preserve after the rancher who donated the property and its assets, which are valued at approximately $7 million.

—Peter Hart

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