It’s no surprise that Boston University has a great many alumni notable for their financial success. In fact, a recent survey by the consultancy Wealth-X found that the University ranks 19th in the world in number of high-net-worth alumni. Just as notably, those Terriers are sharing their good fortune with their alma mater.
The Campaign for Boston University closed the last fiscal year, June 30, 2017, with almost $1.3 billion in gifts and pledges.
The money includes the largest gift in the University’s history: $115 million from trustee Rajen Kilachand (Questrom’74, Hon.’14), $15 million to support the construction of the new Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering and $100 million to fund the new center’s interdisciplinary research joining life sciences and engineering.
And BU’s first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign, whose goal was increased from $1 billion to $1.5 billion in 2015, still has two years to go.
“This has been a great year,” says Scott Nichols, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. “And we’re optimistic about the future.”
The first such fundraising initiative in University history, the campaign has been a transformative event for BU, remaking its physical campus, expanding its educational offerings, and altering the University’s self-perception and relations with alumni. Lead donor Kilachand has said that previous to the campaign, BU had made so little effort to keep in touch with alumni that when Robert A. Brown contacted him after becoming president in 2005, Kilachand didn’t know who he was.
Since then, the campaign has helped pay for such major construction as the Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering, the Yawkey Center for Student Services, the School of Law’s Redstone Building, the Engineering Product Innovation Center, the Medical Student Residence, the Shipley Prostate Cancer Research Center, and the renovation of the BU Castle to host the Dahod Family Alumni Center.
Campaign dollars also supported the creation of the Pardee School of Global Studies and the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College. Across the University, Nichols says, “there have been something like 80 named professorships that have been created. There are hundreds of scholarships that have been created.”
One reason for the campaign’s success, he says, is that philanthropy begets philanthropy. When trustee Allen Questrom (Questrom’64, Hon.’15) and his wife, Kelli Questrom (Hon.’15), gave a then-record $50 million to BU in 2015, “there were a whole lot of people paying attention and saying, ‘Gee, what is it that Questrom knows about BU that I ought to learn?’”
Nichols says the campaign giving is “related to a huge vote of confidence in the way this place is run.”
The University is holding a gala with a surprise theme October 26 at the New York Public Library for 300-plus members of the BU community, from donors to deans, hosted by trustee Richard Cohen (CGS’67, Questrom’69). Nichols says the gala will “celebrate the leadership donors and bring the leadership community together.” He isn’t saying what the theme is, but does give a hint: “if you want to know what the evening’s going to be about, look up ‘abecedarian.’”
The University also plans a fall 2018 event combining a campaign gala with a summit of University alumni in the entertainment industry.