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Campaign UConn Launches with $300 Million Goal
(Released: 05/03/01)

By Richard Veilleux, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut today launched the most ambitious private fund-raising campaign ever conducted by a public university in New England -- Campaign UConn. The goal is to raise $300 million in private funds for endowments, scholarships and programmatic enhancements at UConn by 2004.

In preliminary campaign work underway since 1998, the University has raised $150.2 million, slightly more than half the goal. Campaign UConn intends to increase annual private giving from the $20 million level of 1998 to $70 million a year by 2004. All campuses and professional schools will be included in the campaign.

"Perception is now a reality -- UConn is a place where great things are happening," President Philip E. Austin said during a campaign kick-off on the plaza of the Homer Babbidge Library. With the facilities upgrades to UConn campuses since the UCONN 2000 capital improvement program was passed by the General Assembly in 1995, and the private funds that will be raised through Campaign UConn, the University will be "a model for public higher education in the 21st century," Austin said.

The private fund-raising will increase support for faculty, students and programs. "We have to think about enhancing our academic programs even further -- that's what this campaign is all about," said Judith A. Kelly, professor of molecular and cell biology and a member of the Campaign Steering Committee.

The physical improvements to UConn's campuses in recent years, coupled with athletic and academic successes, are making the University "a magnet" for attracting high quality students, said Brian Williams, MSNBC anchor and keynote speaker at the campaign kick-off. His own 13-year-old daughter saw a UConn window sticker on a car just yesterday when they were stuck in traffic, Williams said, and she asked, "What if I go to UConn?"

Already recognized as the premier public university in New England, UConn has set its sights on becoming one of the top 25 public universities in the nation, joining the ranks of institutions such as the University of California at Berkeley and the universities of Michigan, Virginia, and Wisconsin. All of these institutions have major private fund-raising programs.

"Public funding is the vital foundation on which private giving builds," said Austin. "Private funding supplements, it does not supplant. It adds value to something already worthy; it creates a margin of excellence on a platform of quality."

Currently, state support accounts for less than half of UConn's budget. Tuition and student fees, the other major revenue source, account for about a third.

Of the $300 million raised in Campaign UConn, half will go toward the University's endowment and half toward programs and facilities. About $75 million will be directed to endowed faculty positions -- chairs and professorships that are supported in part by the income from the investment of endowed funds. The prestige of a named, endowed chair enables a university to recruit and retain top academic talent. In all, the campaign seeks to triple the number of endowed faculty positions at UConn. Currently there are 47 endowed chairs and 12 endowed professorships at all campuses.

Another $75 million will be designated for student scholarships and the Honors Program, which helps recruit academically talented Connecticut high school students to UConn. Half the goal will be directed toward enhancing undergraduate and graduate programs and improving facilities that are ineligible for UConn 2000 building funds.

UConn's current total endowment, or privately raised savings that are invested, is approximately $210 million, up from $50 million just six years ago.

Besides providing facilities funding for UConn, the state's UCONN 2000 program has encouraged private support for UConn by matching private donations to the endowment. The current match is 1:2 -- or one state dollar for every two eligible private dollars.

By increasing its endowment and private fund-raising efforts, UConn joins a trend in public higher education. The University of Massachusetts ended its first comprehensive fund-raising campaign in 2000, raising $130 million. The University of New Hampshire is in the midst of a five-year campaign to raise

$100 million. The University of Virginia recently completed a seven-year campaign in which it raised $1.43 billion, or nearly double its original goal.

Major commitments to Campaign UConn so far include $23 million from alumnus Ray Neag (class of '56), for whom the School of Education is now named; $4.9 million from United Technologies Corp.; $3.9 million from alumnus Samuel J. Orr, Jr. (class of '40 and '61 School of Law); and an $11 million investment

by the General Electric family of companies-GE Fund, GE Industrial Systems, and GE Capital. Denis J. Nayden (class of '76, School of Business '77), chairman and chief executive officer of GE Capital, chairs the Steering Committee for Campaign UConn.

As Nayden said at Thursday's kick-off, "I get questions all the time-- why does UConn need private fund raising?" The answer, he said, is "To raise the extra money to take the University to the next level of excellence."

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