University of Virginia Publicly Launches $3 Billion Campaign

September 29, 2006
Sept. 29, 2006 — Pledging to secure a permanent position among the top universities in the world, the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors publicly launched the Campaign for the University of Virginia: Knowledge is Power today, announcing that gifts and pledges of more than $1 billion have already been received toward the goal of $3 billion.

The campaign goal is more than double the $1.43 billion that the University raised during its last campaign, which ended Dec. 31, 2000, and which, at the time, was one of the top two most successful fundraising efforts by a single public university.

In remarks to more than 350 alumni and friends in Old Cabell Hall, President John T. Casteen III said that “the work we inaugurate here today is as important as was the work begun in what was described as an old turned-out field when [Thomas] Jefferson and his collaborators met in 1817 to begin the process of building their university.

“Jefferson encouraged his peers to recognize what he called the important truths —‘that knowledge is power, that knowledge is safety and that knowledge is happiness.’ We believe as our founder did that power, safety and happiness are the natural products of the work that students, faculty members and others do here.”

Gordon Rainey, campaign chairman, noted that the recent passage of the Higher Education Restructuring Act not only gives the University the opportunity to exercise greater control over its destiny, but "we must also assume greater responsibility for funding that destiny."

"The last campaign transformed the University into America’s preeminent public university," said Rainey. "This campaign holds the promise of propelling the University into the front ranks of all institutions of higher learning — public or private — and in the process create a new model in American higher education—the essentially privately funded public university."

Rector Thomas Farrell presented a resolution to endorse the campaign, and the Board of Visitors responded unanimously in the affirmative in a roll call vote.

The board’s decision to launch the campaign with a $3 billion goal reflects both the needs of the institution, as well as the strength of the University’s pre-kickoff fundraising efforts. Volunteer leaders of the campaign have cumulatively contributed more than one-third of the $1 billion already raised. Of that, more than $12 million is the result of commitments made by all 16 members of the Board of Visitors and $110 million is the result of commitments made by all 22 members of the University’s Campaign Executive Committee.

The Campaign for the University of Virginia began quietly on Jan. 1, 2004, and by Aug. 31, 2006, had resulted in 208,469 gifts and pledges from 102,730 donors, with more than 100 of those contributions valued between $1 million and $50 million. (By the conclusion of its last campaign, the University had received 508,580 gifts and pledges from a total of 142,327 donors.) At Friday's launch, Rainey announced that the campaign was currently at $1.02 billion.

“Clearly, successful campaigns of this magnitude rest on the shoulders of many, indeed thousands,” Rainey said. “The extraordinary gifts — those that do name buildings and create centers — will no doubt be the subject of press releases and naming ceremonies.  That is as it should be. But it is also true that every gift counts, every gift is valued, every gift is needed.”

When this campaign concludes on Dec. 31, 2011, the University’s $3 billion goal will almost fully support four key priorities:

  • Enhancing the University experience for students and faculty in order to prepare the citizens and leaders of tomorrow. This will be accomplished through the creation of additional scholarships and fellowships, more professorships and other forms of faculty support, new and expanded facilities, and new and expanded programs. Total need: $1.47 billion.
  • Promoting research, scholarship and creativity in order to expand the boundaries of knowledge. This will be achieved through the creation of endowments for faculty, students and visiting scholars; an endowment for programs; new laboratories and other research facilities; and new research initiatives. Total need: $947 million.
  • Serving society by meeting the challenges of our time. This will be realized through transformations in health care intended to improve the lives of people around the globe; through the creation of interdisciplinary centers and institutes that bring the best academic minds to bear on solving societal problems; and the support of public engagement initiatives to revitalize K-12 education and the political and democratic processes, among others. Total need: $603 million.
  • Assuring flexibility in the pursuit of excellence by providing the University with unrestricted resources that can be deployed immediately when promising opportunities arise, such as the chance to recruit a stellar scholar or to meet student demand for a new program. Total need: $70 million.

The campaign slogan, “Knowledge Is Power,” is derived from a letter written by University of Virginia founder Thomas Jefferson to American educator George Ticknor in 1817, in which Jefferson wished that Virginia legislators would perceive the “important truths, that knowledge is power, that knowledge is safety and that knowledge is happiness” in deciding whether to establish a system of public education in the commonwealth.

Casteen noted that Jefferson had described the University as “an institution on which the fortunes of our country may depend” and added:

“As we face the prospective of new solutions to the enigmas of cancer, as we explore ways to remedy the effects of acid rain on the water table and plant life, as we address the opportunities that young people face to create in the arts, as we focus on the traditional strengths in preparing women and men for the professions in the School of Law, in the Darden School, in the other schools that have a professional orientation — in each of those gestures, we focus on the role this University plays in the fortune of our nation.”

Added Casteen: “We have a chance to do something that has never been done before. And we will do it.”

According to a Sept. 6, 2006, report compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the University of Virginia’s $3 billion goal is among the highest in higher education, public or private, and currently leads all public institutions engaged in campaigns of $1 billion or more. The University of Michigan is cited as having the second-highest goal for a public institution at $2.5 billion; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the third-highest goal for a public at $2 billion.

During a morning session Friday, the Board of Visitors announced the names of three new buildings and two professorships. Following the public announcement of the campaign launch, the University held a groundbreaking for the South Lawn project.