The University of Virginia has reached its $3-billion fundraising goal in a campaign launched nine years ago, school President Teresa A. Sullivan announced Sunday.
Sullivan billed the effort started under former President John Casteen as "the most ambitious capital campaign in the history of public higher education."
After starting quietly in 2004, the Campaign for the University of Virginia went public in October 2006, having already raised more than $1 billion. The initiative faced an immediate hurdle in the form of the recession that began a short time later.
Sullivan, who made the campaign announcement during Final Exercises, praised UVa Senior Vice President for Development and Public Affairs Bob Sweeney and his staff for the fundraising effort's ultimate success despite setbacks.
"Sweeney has worked tirelessly on this campaign, and he has led a dedicated staff through a period of considerable economic adversity to reach this goal," she said.
Rector Helen E. Dragas said she learned last week of what she called "this very exciting and gratifying news."
"As is noted in a recent analysis of the University," she said in an email, "we must redouble our efforts to maximize revenues from other sources to avoid being overly dependent upon tuition."
In September, Sweeney told the Board of Visitors that fundraisers had failed to close out the campaign in the allotted time, but said the goal would be reached by spring.
"Today is a wonderful day for the University of Virginia,” campaign Chairman Gordon Rainey, an alumnus and former board rector, said in a news release. “Because of the tireless efforts of so many loyal and generous supporters, we are confident in a secure future for the university.”
Campaign money is slated to go toward 514 endowed scholarships, 63 endowed professorships and 97 endowed fellowships, according to a university news release. The campaign received more than 220,000 donations from individuals and organizations, including 92,000 alumni, 29,000 students and 2,600 faculty and staff.
"All of us who care about this university and its future are incredibly grateful to everyone who made the success of the campaign possible," Sullivan said.
Like UVa, Yale University quietly launched a fundraising campaign in 2004 — in what's known as a soft or "silent" launch in which fundraisers attempt to reach close to half their goal before officially announcing the effort. The campaign went public in 2006, with $1.1 billion already raised. The private school closed the campaign in 2011 at $3.8 billion, a record for the private Ivy League school.
Another public school, the University of Michigan, closed an eight-year campaign, "Michigan Difference," at $3.2 billion in 2008 after reaching its original $2.5-billion goal more than a year early.
The University of Southern California, the state's oldest private research university, launched in fall 2011 a $6-billion initiative that it called "the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the history of higher education."
Stanford University closed a campaign two months later that raised $6.2 billion.