U hopes to raise $1.3 billion

Kristin Gustafson

Amid maroon and gold streamers and fireworks set off from the top of Coffman Union, University President Mark Yudof announced an unprecedented $1.3 billion, seven-year fund-raising campaign.
“This is the largest and most important fund-raising drive in our history,” Yudof told the crowd of about 250. “(Campaign Minnesota) is the most ambitious of any public university in America.”
The University hopes to raise enough private funds by 2003 to add $540 million to the University’s endowment and an additional $760 million to support current programs at more than 25 schools within the University system.
This includes $160 million for the Institute of Technology, $75 million for the College of Liberal Arts and $100 million for the Carlson School of Management. In addition, the University will try to raise $400 million for the Twin Cities and Duluth medical schools and the School of Public Health.
With the total amount to be raised as the only secret of the campaign, Yudof and campaign chairman Russell Bennet announced the number to Bennet’s drumroll.
After raising a platform three stories, mascots from the Twin Cities, Crookston, Morris and Duluth campuses unfurled a banner, revealing the numbers 1,300,000,000 while the University Marching Band played the Minnesota Rouser.
“I’m pretty optimistic that we’ll go over the top,” Yudof said after the announcement.
Top priorities are to increase the University’s capacity to attract and retain the nation’s best faculty members through endowed chairs and other faculty support; attract high-quality students through more merit-based scholarships and graduate fellowships; and provide unrestricted funding for strategic investments.
The University got a $628 million head start on its seven-year campaign, which started July 1, 1996.
Having half the money in the bank helps in raising the other half, Yudof said.
Gerald Fischer, president of the University Foundation, said there was a four-year “quiet, nucleus phase” to the campaign allowing volunteer leaders and others to make commitments.
For example, he said the four $10 million gifts given to the University in the last two years — from Richard “Pinky” McNamara, Curtis L. Carlson, the Cargill corporation and the Swenson Family Foundation — were all donated with knowledge that it would bolster the drive once the campaign was announced.
“They wanted to help provide that leadership statement that we are committed,” Fischer said of the four donors.
The University’s last campaign, from 1985 to 1988, raised $365 million — $65 million more than their goal.
“It was the largest fund-raising campaign result ever for a public institution,” Fischer said. “Every part of the University is included in this campaign. That is why we have a faculty goal, student goal and an outreach goal.”
Fischer added that every campaign steering committee member and foundation board trustee has already given to the campaign.
Campaign Minnesota is led by a 15-member volunteer committee.
Bennet, a fifth-generation University alumnus, stressed the importance of supporting faculty, one of the main missions of the campaign.
“Professors will have a very definite impact on you,” he said. “They will have the ability to help you set goals, to achieve those goals and to learn.”
Improving faculty salaries has been a goal of Yudof’s since he became University president more than two years ago. He wants “to recruit, develop and retain the most outstanding faculty we possibly can,” and added, “a strong faculty means a strong University.”
“The key to the 21st century is brain-powered intellectual property,” he added.
Yudof said he is most excited about the unrestricted chairs portion of the campaign.
Although this portion covers only $50 million out of the $1.3 billion to be raised, the money should significantly help the University meet faculty and student needs.
“A great many gifts will have strings attached,” Yudof said. But unrestricted chairs will allow for flexibility within departments.
Additionally, Campaign Minnesota should help the University “attract students of promise, irrespective of their financial needs,” Yudof said. “We’re competing with Harvard, Stanford, MIT — the great universities in this country — in recruiting and retaining students,” Fischer said.
Public universities like the University need public-private partnerships in order to compete, he said.
“Donors will designate their gifts to the areas they want,” Fisher said. “One of the reasons we have discretionary spending as a theme is to give the president the ability to build up the parts of the University that are not as fortunate in raising money as others.”
“This is about being a great University rather than an adequate one,” Fischer said of the campaign.
The University has planned an Oct. 22 black-tie event with University alumni — including actor Peter Graves, public radio personality Garrison Keillor and former Vice President Walter Mondale — to celebrate and build campaign support among University top donors.
“We must seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities now before us or lose ground that might never be made up,” Yudof said.

Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3211.