Weekend of events is filled with optimism, determination, and celebration.
Over the weekend of September 21 through 23—in ceremonies large and small, festive and contemplative—the Campaign for Boston University was formally launched. With an overall goal of as much as $1 billion, the campaign—BU’s first ever—is designed to support almost every aspect of the University’s academic work.
At a black-tie dinner on Friday evening, campaign chair and trustee Kenneth Feld (SMG’70) revealed how much money had been raised through early commitments to the campaign: a total of more than $420 million. “Thank you,” Feld told an audience of some 300 supporters of the University. “What a wonderful leap forward for this great institution!”
Feld also announced that 100 percent of the Board of Trustees had already contributed to the campaign. Taken together, Feld said, the University’s trustees and overseers had pledged more than $130 million to the drive. “This is enormously important,” said Feld. “This creates a new paradigm of philanthropy in support of BU.”
In another major development, Feld announced that trustee Rajen Kilachand (GSM’74)—who, with a $25 million gift to BU last year, established himself as the largest donor in the University’s history—had pledged an additional $10 million to the cause. In recognition of Kilachand’s extraordinary generosity, BU will rename Shelton Hall “Kilachand Hall,” and dedicate that building to the use of the Honors College endowed by Kilachand in honor of his parents.
President Robert A. Brown, in his remarks to the Friday night gathering, also made a major announcement. “Just last week,” Brown said, “we received a gift of $18 million from Sumner M. Redstone, the executive chairman of Viacom.
This was the cornerstone gift that we needed to undertake the expansion and improvement of our School of Law’s campus. After Rajen Kilachand’s magnificent gift of last year, this was the second largest gift from an individual ever received by this University. It is, almost literally, the key that unlocks the door to the future of our Law School. Now, we can move forward. We can create a Law School campus that’s as good as our faculty and students.”
Celebration of BU
Friday night’s air of optimism and determination carried forward into Saturday night’s “Celebration of BU,” held in a transformed Agganis Arena in front of a crowd estimated at more than 3,000 people. The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, under the direction of Keith Lockhart (Hon.’04), provided musical accompaniment as a series of speakers and performers celebrated the growth and accomplishments of BU over more than a century and a half.
Special guests included Kevin O’Connor (GSM’99), Andy Cohen (COM’90), Dean of Students Kenn Elmore (SED’87), Mike Eruzione (SED’77), and Erica Hill (COM’98). Peter Fiedler (COM’77), BU’s vice president of administrative services—and son of the late Arthur Fiedler (Hon.’51), longtime Pops maestro—took a turn with the baton. Entertainers included Boston University student groups ranging from the Dear Abbeys a cappella group, to the Inner Strength Gospel Choir, to the BU Figure Skating Team, and also featured skaters provided by FELD Entertainment.
1 million hours of community service
A special feature of both evenings was the announcement—made by Dexter McCoy (COM’14), president of the student body, and Alison Weltman (COM’13), event program manager for BU’s Community Service Center— that the BU student body intended to support the fundraising drive by contributing a million hours of community service over the life of the campaign. “Through this gesture,” explained McCoy, “we want to bring together our students’ impulse to be generous and their determination to serve.”
The Saturday night extravaganza marked the official beginning of the campaign’s public phase, which is expected to last five years. “We will succeed,” campaign chair Feld told his Friday night audience, “but it won’t be easy. Campaigns are not sprints, but marathons. To date, we’ve raised 42 percent of our campaign goal. So: 42 percent of 26 miles means that, in marathon terms, we can see that 11-mile marker on the side of the road just ahead of us. Eleven miles down, 15 more to go.”