University completes fundraising for colleges

The University has successfully completed fundraising for the construction of two new residential colleges, nearly a month ahead of schedule.

On Monday, University President Peter Salovey announced the milestone to students, faculty in staff in his bi-weekly “Notes from Woodbridge Hall” email. The completion of the $500 million fundraising initiative — which is Yale’s most ambitious since its last capital campaign — comes some eight months after Charles Johnson ’54 gave Yale $250 million for the project — the largest gift in Yale’s history.

Though Johnson’s gift spurred a renewed focus on the colleges, it left $80 million for the University to raise. Much of Salovey’s time this year has been consumed with efforts to gather the funds. The colleges, which were planned over six years ago but temporarily derailed by the 2008-’09 financial crisis, are entirely donor-funded.

“I must thank all of the alumni and parents who have helped make this project possible,” Salovey said in the email.

According to University Vice President for Development Joan O’Neill, the completion of the fundraising was substantially aided by a $25 million fundraising challenge from an anonymous donor. The challenge matched gifts of $1 million or more on a one-to-one basis. By early last week, the University was within $5 million of its target.

O’Neill said that late last week, a member of the Class of 1964, which celebrated its 50th reunion this May, agreed to give enough to bring the total to $500 million.

“Gifts during the reunion year have been very important to our fundraising success, in particular in the classes of 1954 and 1964 — but also in many other classes,” O’Neill said.

According to O’Neill, 50 percent of the gifts since Johnson’s have been of $1 million or more.

Salovey’s email noted that the completion of fundraising will allow the University to begin accepting bids from potential contractors on the colleges. The current timeframe calls for construction to begin in early 2015, with the colleges opening in 2017.

When completed, the colleges will have 904 beds and increase the student body of Yale College by approximately 15 percent. In May, Architecture School Dean Robert A.M. Stern, whose firm designed the colleges, confirmed that the designs had been finalized.

The names of the colleges are yet to be announced, but administrators have said they will not be named after living donors.