Yale’s tercentennial has come and gone, but not without leaving the University with approximately $448 million in birthday gifts.
Tercentennial fund raising — efforts encompassing an 18-month period — netted the contributions from 266 donors, Vice President of Development Charles Pagnam said.
“We were able to secure gifts from some new donors. I am delighted with the number of $1 million-plus gifts, and I am delighted that the way we were able to secure the gifts was a combination of volunteer help, staff help and [Yale President Richard Levin],” Pagnam said. “It was a great team effort.”
Levin, who said he was very involved in the fund-raising efforts because most of the gifts were large, noted that many gifts will directly benefit particular initiatives, including the new environmental science building and the as-yet-unbuilt chemistry building.
“We had a major gift for the new art history and architecture building. We had roughly $30 million for the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies campaign,” Levin said. “There are a number of new professorships and a quite significant amount of gifts toward international aid.”
The Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and the World Fellows Program also received significant donations, Levin said.
Pagnam and University Secretary Linda Lorimer said the University’s Fourth Century Initiative — with its three main objectives of maintaining traditional Yale strengths, developing new areas of academic distinction, and defining Yale’s leadership in the new century — was the driving factor of the campaign, especially in the absence of a formal capital campaign.
“I think it is enormously heartwarming how Yale graduates donated so generously into propelling Yale into the fourth century,” Lorimer said. “Without any formal campaign, within a two-year period there were donations and pledges of an extraordinary amount.”
Pagnam said Levin’s long-range plan was the focus of fund-raising strategy.
“We tried actually not to play up on the tercentennial as much as we were trying to play up on the presidential vision and priorities as we move beyond the tercentennial,” Pagnam said. “People are making an investment. — I think the reason we were able to secure almost $450 million is because people want to make an investment in what the president has laid out as the framework and priorities for the next 10 years.”
The Fourth Century Initiative, which was a part of Yale’s tercentennial efforts, concluded at the end of 2001. A particular emphasis was placed on improving Yale’s international reputation in science and engineering, defining the University as a leader in environmental studies, and enhancing its international presence.
Pagnam said Yale’s approach to tercentennial giving was also motivated by what he termed “fund-raising etiquette,” which dictates sufficient time between capital campaigns.
“We didn’t want to do a broad-based, every-member canvass campaign, which is what we had done before,” Pagnam said. Yale’s last capital campaign was in 1997, and Pagnam said there have been no serious discussions of when Yale will embark on their next campaign.
About $53 million of the $70 million gift from the Class of 1954 was counted in the $448 million total, Pagnam said.
Lorimer, who oversaw Yale’s Tercentennial, said she came into contact with many of the donors during her work on the 300th birthday celebration.
“Many of the people who are generous donors are also active volunteers,” Lorimer said.
And while she said she thinks Yale’s vitality motivated contributors the most, she also said the timing was influential.
“Many alums believed they wanted to give Yale a birthday gift,” Lorimer said.