On Saturday, the University of Pennsylvania added itself to the list of five Ivy League schools — including Yale — currently in the midst of multi-billion dollar fundraising campaigns.

In a launch event that included food and student performances, Penn officials formally launched a $3.5 billion capital campaign and announced that the university had already raised $1.6 billion toward its goal during the campaign’s “silent phase.” Penn administrators said they hope to reach their goal within five years.

The money raised during Penn’s campaign will help fund faculty recruitment, facilities renovation and endowment support for financial aid, Penn officials said.

“Clearly, we have no doubt that we’ll raise all of the money and meet this goal,” Penn Director of Media Relations Ron Ozio said.

Yale has raised more than $1.7 billion toward the $3 billion goal of the “Yale Tomorrow” campaign, which was formally launched last October after a two-year silent phase. Brown University, Cornell University, Columbia University and Dartmouth College are also currently undertaking capital campaigns. Princeton University will launch a similar campaign next month, and Harvard University will launch in 2008.

Although all eight Ivies are executing or planning multi-billion dollar campaigns, the timing is not intentional, University President Richard Levin said.

“A number of schools were overdue for major capital campaigns, and there’s just sort of a clustering that arose sort of accidentally,” Levin said. “I don’t really think it’s a conscious thing. Most schools try to time these campaigns every 15 years or so these days and it’s just the way it fell.”

Penn President Amy Gutmann announced the beginning of the campaign at an event on Penn’s College Green. The event featured DJs, performances by student groups and speeches by members of the administration.

“It was fantastic,” said Nicolas Aguirre, a freshman at Penn who attended the kickoff. “So many people came out — students, faculty, staff, alumni. It was lots of fun. I loved it.”

Penn administrators anticipated that two thousand people would attend the event, Ozio said.

Only 15 percent of Penn’s undergraduate financial aid budget comes from the university’s endowment. Administrators said they hope to raise $350 million to increase endowment support for student aid over the course of the campaign.

Penn, which enrolls about 20,000 full-time students, has an endowment currently valued at $6.6 billion. Yale, which enrolls roughly 11,000 full-time students, has an endowment valued at $22.5 billion. Stanford University is in the midst of the largest capital campaign in higher education, which aims to raise $4.3 billion.