Capital campaign focuses on future

As more than two dozen universities undertake billion-dollar capital campaigns, the Yale Tomorrow campaign has been noted for its focus on expanding the University in new directions.

Many of its peer institutions, including Columbia University and Dartmouth College, will direct the funds they raise primarily to basic institutional needs such as renovations of residential buildings, yearly operating budgets and reinvigorating core programs. Yale and Stanford University, on the other hand, are setting their sights on expanding their global influence and maintaining top-level research facilities in addition to addressing more underlying concerns. Yale’s campaign, which kicked off on Sept. 30, aims to raise $3 billion over five years.

Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said Yale had basic needs to meet at the time of its last capital campaign, which ended in 1997. The University spent much of that money on campus renovations and contributing to New Haven’s economic development, and the success of that campaign has allowed Yale to focus on broader goals this time, she said.

“This campaign is different in that we are starting from a very strong base,” Reichenbach said. “Now we can focus on the future, as opposed to putting out fires.”

Yale’s campaign has four over-arching goals: Yale College, the arts, the sciences and Yale’s role as a global university. Because graduates will experience the effects of globalization in almost any field they choose, the University has a responsibility to develop new opportunities for students to learn about and study in other parts of the world, Reichenbach said.

The Yale Tomorrow campaign will fund the Yale-in-Peking program, which began this semester, professorships at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, opportunities for every undergraduate to study abroad and increased financial aid for international students.

“I think we all realize that we all live in a global world today,” Reichenbach said. “When you graduate, chances are that whatever job you are going to take, it will bring you in contact with international companies and people from other countries … unless you have had an experience and have lived abroad and seen things with your own eyes, one is much less prepared to deal in a world like that.”

Yale will also devote money raised by the campaign to research in nanotechnology, genetics and biomedical engineering both on Science Hill and at the School of Medicine, she said.

Fund-raising drives at some schools with smaller endowments have a less international focus. Columbia University, which began a capital campaign last month, hopes to raise four billion dollars over five years primarily to improve its faculty and enhance student resources across its 29 arts and science departments, said Jerry Kisslinger, the executive director of communications for development and alumni relations at Columbia.

“We are building strengths across the disciplines,” he said. “It’s pretty generic, but it’s a pretty acute need here when you look at the schools that we are compared to in terms of faculty who might come here or students who might come here.”

Kisslinger said a projected $1.6 billion will be used to build Columbia’s endowment in order to provide for more resources for faculty and financial aid for students. Convincing prospective donors to contribute is easier for Columbia than Yale since Columbia’s $5.94 billion endowment is relatively small for a school of its reputation, he said.

“With student financial aid, [the need] is quite acute, because we don’t have the kind of endowment strength that some of our peers do,” Kisslinger said. “Other places did a good job a few decades ago of making the case to donors that the endowment was the place to go in ensuring the long-term viability of these programs. We’re addressing that now.”

Dartmouth College — which is attempting to raise $1.3 billion by 2009 — is also focused on basic student and faculty needs. According to the Dartmouth Web site, the funds raised by the campaign will focus on four key areas: improving undergraduate education, upgrading facilities for students, bolstering support for financial aid and contributing to the annual operating budget.

But the Stanford Challenge — a $4.3 billion, five-year campaign launched earlier this month by Stanford University — features goals similar to Yale’s, Director of Communications Alan Acosta said. In addition to improving graduate and undergraduate education and providing more resources for faculty, Stanford’s campaign aims to raise $1.4 billion for multidisciplinary research into questions of human health and medicine, environmental sustainability and international relations, Acosta said.

“Stanford has been very good at translating the answers to questions into ways to improve society and create products,” he said. “This is the university where Google was born, where a lot of the innovations that were made into companies in Silicon Valley started.”

Acosta said existing laboratories are insufficient for the caliber of research the university aims to do in the future and will be renovated.

A central goal of Stanford’s campaign is to allow the university to offer financial aid to international students because they enrich the classroom experience and expand other students’ understanding of the world, Acosta said.

“We hope to raise money for financial aid for students who are undergraduates so we can have the experience for our students to have more interaction with as many students as possible from other countries,” he said.

The Yale Tomorrow campaign, which was launched on September 30th, has already raised $1.3 billion of its target sum, mostly through donations made during the campaign’s silent phase.

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