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Yale will begin a fund-raising campaign targeted at the Yale College curriculum this spring, following the completion of the current academic review, Yale President Richard Levin said.

The Committee on Yale College Education, which Levin assembled more than a year ago, is currently in the process of reviewing the undergraduate curriculum. Led by Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead, the committee is expected to make concrete recommendations before the end of the semester. Levin said the fund-raising campaign will be targeted at developing and realizing the committee’s recommendations.

“We’ve not formulated any specific plans at this time, but we do intend to mount a fund-raising campaign once the results of the curriculum review have been fully discussed and debated in the community,” Levin said.

In starting a campaign, Yale will join other universities that are pursuing ambitious fund-raising efforts, including 21 universities that have begun billion-dollar campaigns. These efforts allow the institutions to focus on specific goals and engage in internal study. With many universities facing significant budget difficulties in the shaky economy, some institutions have relied on ongoing capital campaigns to soften the blow.

Yale’s last capital campaign was in 1997. The University raised approximately $448 million over 18 months during its Tercentennial celebration that began two years ago. At the time, administrators said they were not pursuing a full-fledged capital campaign because there must be downtime between major fund-raising efforts.

Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University and Duke University are among those schools pursuing billion-dollar campaigns.

Johns Hopkins began the public phase of its “The Johns Hopkins Campaign: Knowledge for the World” in May 2002.

Dennis O’Shea, a Johns Hopkins spokesman, said capital campaigns are useful in bringing people’s attention to specific goals.

“It forces you to strategize, to plan, to prioritize,” O’Shea said.

At Duke, the university’s “Campaign for Duke” allows it to fund raise more successfully than in the past, said Peter Vaughn, director of communications and donor relations for Duke University.

“You carve out very explicit needs that are over and above what has become the rate of giving,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn said the slowing economy has not significantly affected the progress of the campaign.

“We’re pretty confident that it will stay on track,” Vaughn said.

Levin said it is too early to tell right now how successful Yale’s campaign will be.

“It could be a year and a half before [the campaign] gets formed, and the economy might be in a much better place then,” Levin said.

But Northwestern University, which publicly began its “Campaign Northwestern” in 1998, has seen changes in donation patterns since the economic slowdown, said associate vice president of university development for Northwestern Penelepe Hunt.

“We have donors whose intentions are the same — but their timing is much slower,” Hunt said.

She said the amount of money raised has also declined. But since Northwestern has already approached many of its major donors, she said the economy may not be the only factor in the decline.

Johns Hopkins had raised $904.7 million of a $2 billion campaign as of Dec. 31, with the campaign scheduled to end in 2007. Both Duke and Northwestern recently surpassed their goals of $2 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively. Duke’s campaign will conclude at the end of 2003, while Northwestern’s will end in August.

Capital campaigns generally start with a so-called “quiet period,” in which the institution approaches donors privately without publicizing the campaign.

Vaughn said the decision to begin Duke’s campaign was largely a result of leaders at the university who believed the campaign would be successful. Hunt said the campaign at Northwestern was largely spurred by the vision of a new president’s strategic plan for the university, which involved a number of measures that required university-wide support.