December 6th, 2016

The Campaign: taking stock

Four years in, and the results are impressive

This past September, The Campaign for Boston University reached a quiet milestone: the end of its fourth full year since the launch of the campaign’s public phase, and the beginning of its fifth. On its original timetable, the campaign would have ended in 2017; with the raising of the campaign goal to $1.5 billion and the extension of its timeline this past spring by the Trustees, BU’s first comprehensive fundraising effort is now scheduled to wrap up in 2019.

More than halfway to the finish line, what have the campaign and its supporters accomplished so far? The answer: a great deal.

Perhaps the best way to summarize that progress is to look back to goals articulated by President Robert A. Brown and his faculty colleagues in the strategic plan that was completed in 2007. From 50,000 feet, how has the campaign helped advance those goals?

Strengthening the quality of the faculty

facultyNearly six dozen new faculty positions have been created as a result of donor generosity. Many have been concentrated in our larger professional schools, but almost all schools have benefited. One notable achievement: The College of Communication began the campaign with no endowed chairs; today it has five. At COM and elsewhere, these are essential tools for faculty recruitment and retention.

Enhancing the excellence of our undergraduate education

One of the early successes in the campaign came at the College of Fine Arts, where generous donors supported the replacement and expansion of music studios to 120: the largest installation of Wenger modular practice rooms in the country.

The innovative Century Challenge has so far raised more than $20 million for endowed scholarships.

Part of ensuring undergraduate excellence is to provide sufficient funding to enable all qualified students to enroll. Through the innovative Century Challenge—a unique program in which the yield on donors’ endowed scholarships is matched by BU—has so far raised more than $20 million. We should also underscore the generosity of Ernestine O’Connell (CAS’43, GRS’46, SED’58), whose $7.4 million bequest greatly expanded the already significant scholarship program that bears her family’s name.

kilachandThe establishment of the Kilachand Honors College—made possible through the generosity of BU Trustee Rajen Kilachand (Questrom’74, Hon.’14)—created a new home for some of our most accomplished, curious, and intellectually rigorous undergraduates. One measure of their dedication to academic excellence: Almost 95 percent of the inaugural Kilachand class—the Class of 2014—graduated with honors.

Strengthening the undergraduate experience

yawkeyA generous gift from the Yawkey Foundations to support undergraduate nonprofit internships—combined with gifts from the late Arthur Marciano (DGE’49, COM’51) and from Trustee Sharon Ryan (SAR’70) and her husband Robert—helped BU complete and implement new programs in what is now called the Yawkey Center for Student Services: a 120,000-square-foot facility dedicated to helping students succeed during and after their time at BU.

new-balanceExtracurricular activities and club and varsity sports got an important boost with the completion of New Balance Field, made possible through the generosity of the New Balance Corporation and several strong supporters of BU Athletics among our alumni population. This new facility literally doubled the playing-field space available to the BU community.

Elevating key professional schools

In this very active realm, we have room in these pages for just three headline stories, though many more could be added here. The biggest came in March 2015, when the BU School of Management became the Questrom School of Business, thanks to the extraordinary $50 million gift from Allen Questrom (Questrom’64, Hon.’15) and his wife Kelli (Hon.’15). Their gift funds 10 professorships and provides seed money for a much-needed new facility.

lawAnother dramatic change came at our School of Law, where long-deferred dreams of a campus transformation were finally realized. Many alumni joined together to help in that transformation—an effort that was greatly aided by a remarkable $18 million gift from media mogul (and former part-time LAW faculty member) Sumner Redstone. The new Redstone Building made possible the complete renovation of the Law Tower, including moving most of the School’s classrooms down to ground level.

med-stu-resFinally, on the Medical Campus, the completion of the Medical Student Residence brought a dramatic change in the quality of our medical students’ lives—in terms of affordability, security, and proximity to the School of Medicine. An incidental but welcome by-product of this broadly based philanthropic effort: an enhanced posture for the School in the competition for the best students.

Fortifying our commitment to interdisciplinary research

The first major story on this front came early in the campaign, when then-Overseer (and now Trustee) Shamim Dahod (CGS’76, CAS’78, MED’87) and her husband Ashraf gave $10.5 million—then the largest gift in the history of the School of Medicine—to establish a Breast Cancer Research Center.

One of the largest gifts in the history of the School of Medicine established a Breast Cancer Research Center.

In 2014, an anonymous $12.5 million gift created the Center for Innovation in Social Work and Health, a new BU center devoted to melding social work and public health science, effectively bringing a social-work perspective to a new home on the Medical Campus.

Most recently, Richard C. Shipley (Questrom’68,’72)—with his family, longtime supporters of BU—made a $10.5 million gift to establish a Prostate Cancer Research Center on the Medical Campus, aimed at focusing on personalized medicine and genomic approaches to better distinguish among different kinds of prostate cancers.

Solidifying our leadership as an urban and global university

pardeeThe most dramatic news on this front came in 2014, when Frederick S. Pardee (Questrom’54, Hon.’06) gave a $25 million gift to endow a new BU school built on his dream of advancing global human progress. The gift brought Pardee’s lifetime giving to almost $40 million, the most of any BU supporter up to that point.

Also notable here was Indonesian businessman (and BU parent) Harry Susilo, who in 2014 endowed an Institute for Ethics in the Global Economy, based at the Questrom School of Business. Among other goals, the Institute is fostering collaboration among Questrom faculty and peers from universities across Asia.

All of this is substantial progress, indeed, prompting at least three other important benefits. The first is in the rankings, which—whether they like it or not—all colleges and universities have to pay attention to. BU as a whole, along with certain programs in our graduate and professional schools, have steadily improved their rankings in the past decade. (The School of Public Health recently received a 10th place in national rankings from U.S. News & World Report—its third consecutive rise in a row!) How is this a fundraising-related story? Alumni participation in fund drives is considered a proxy for overall student and alumni satisfaction with their alma mater. When giving goes up, rankings often follow. In fact, as of late October, 135,023 individuals had contributed to the campaign—in other words, more than one out of every three BU alumni. This is one compelling reason why every gift, no matter how big or small, matters.

A second macro-benefit comes in the arcane but important realm of bond ratings, which help determine the cost of capital borrowing for BU and other institutions. BU’s bond rating has been upgraded four times in the past decade, in a period when other schools’ ratings have remained flat or been downgraded. One reason for BU’s upgrades, according to the ratings agencies: the notable success of its fundraising drive.

And third is the emergence of a community of philanthropy. Until recently, BU’s alumni and other friends had not been solicited in any organized or effective way. Now they have been, and they have responded with spectacular generosity.

wfwTo cite one example: The William Fairfield Warren Society, named for BU’s first president, recognizes those leaders who have made gifts to BU totaling $1 million or more over their lifetimes. Before the beginning of the campaign, there were only a handful of such generous individual donors. Since the campaign’s kickoff, there have been 173 commitments of $1 million or more from individuals, foundations, and corporations, for a total of $690.6 million.

To date, 11.5 percent of the campaign total—more than $125 million—has come from international donors.

In effect, a new community has emerged among BU alumni and other friends: a community of informed philanthropists, both in the U.S. and around the world. (To date, 11.5 percent of the campaign total—more than $125 million—has come from international donors!) These are donors of gifts at all levels, both large and small, who understand and support the University’s priorities, and who are eager to support BU’s mission. They include brand-new donors, as well as members of the Loyal Circle: those 700-plus individuals who have given back to BU every single year since earning their degrees.

This broad base of support—large and small, new and ongoing—bodes well for the successful completion of The Campaign for Boston University, and for the future of the University.

One Comment on The Campaign: taking stock

  • I graduated in 62, and you people no longer room and board in any of your dorms. The last time I contacted one of your hotels for a reunion it was 450 for 2 people for 2 nights. My wife and I have been retired for over 20 years.

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