As Yale looks to ramp up donations in preparation for its next capital campaign, University President Peter Salovey and other University administrators have been traveling more frequently around the world to court potential donors.
Per the Yale Alumni Association website, the Yale Club of Georgia hosted Salovey and Director of Athletics Vicky Chun for a cocktail reception and a Q&A session last October. In December, Salovey traveled to Israel to host another reception, the alumni website stated. Earlier this month, Chun and Salovey attended an annual rodeo show with Edward Bass ’67, who was chairman of the rodeo, and his wife Sasha Bass. In August, Bass made a $160 million gift to the University for the renovation of the Peabody Museum of Natural History.
“I’m spending a lot of time on the road these days speaking with alumni and parents and other friends of the university,” Salovey said in an interview with the News last week. “[I’ve been] having very warm conversations with people who intend to be generous to us. That is probably the best thing for [the next capital campaign]. We can expect continued generosity from our donors.”
Since the University entered the campaign’s silent phase in July, Yale administrators have been building relationships with potential donors and raising a “nucleus fund” — which accounts for about 40 percent of the overall fundraising goal, according to Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development Joan O’Neill. In an interview with the News last December, O’Neill said the University consults alumni, parents and other potential donors during the silent phase to identify which projects donors are excited about and set the priorities for the next campaign.
O’Neill did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.
In an email to the News on Thursday, Salovey said he has been holding hourlong meetings with “alumni and parents who are considering generous gifts.” In these meetings, he discusses the potential donors’ philanthropic goals and “how an investment in projects and priorities at the University may help them achieve those goals,” Salovey explained.
“One thing I’ve discovered very early on in my job is that Yalies are not afraid to express their opinions,” Chun said. “A lot of our alums and supporters want to know what’s going on at the University and weigh in. When we meet with [them], we listen to what they think should be the next step for Yale and we write them down.”
Salovey did not respond to questions regarding which University initiatives the potential donors were excited about. When asked about his trip with Chun earlier this month, Salovey said that Bass — whom he called “a civic leader in Fort Worth who is very involved in community organizations” — was “kind enough to invite [him and Chun] to join [Bass and his wife] at the rodeo … as their personal guests.”
In an interview with the News, Chun said Salovey’s collaborative style has helped him engage effectively with alumni of and potential donors to the University.
“President Salovey is very collaborative so he often invites other administrators like me to [meetings with donors],” Chun said. “He holds warm conversations with donors across the country. … You can feel a great positive energy around [Salovey] and I’m glad that [alumni] outside of New Haven get to experience that.”
This month, Salovey and Vice President for West Campus Planning & Program Development Scott Strobel will host a reception at the Connecticut Science Center called “The Future of Science for Yale and the World.” In an interview with the News last week, Salovey said he will also be attending two “Yale Explores” March events in California. At these events, a panel of Yale faculty members will discuss “being human in the age of intelligent machines” and “the 21st century city and society,” according the University’s website. In October, O’Neill told the News that Yale Explores was founded last fall to “more broadly engage alumni outside of New Haven.”
Last April, Salovey told the News that he asked the deans and other University officials to get more involved in fundraising.
“There’s always a trade-off in terms of how people spend their time,” Salovey explained. “We want to make sure that this gets integrated well in their other job requirements.”
In April, O’Neill told the News that deans of Yale’s various schools often serve as point people for presenting and explaining gift opportunities to potential donors. But at the time, former University Secretary Sam Chauncey ’57 told the News that while it is not unusual for professional school deans to serve as fundraisers, there seems to be “never-ending fundraising” at Yale.
According to O’Neill, Yale’s next capital campaign will likely go public in 2021.
Serena Cho | email@example.com .
Correction, March 1: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun attended an annual rodeo bash with Edward Bass ’67, who was chairman of the rodeo, and his wife Sasha Bass earlier this month. In fact, it was Director of Athletics Vicky Chun, and not Marvin Chun who attended this rodeo.