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Campaign reaches $1 billion mark, UM nears elite higher education status

UM has already raised more than $1 billion in funds as part of its record-setting Momentum 2 campaign – the effects of which can already be seen by students at the university.

Students will benefit from these funds, which will help create scholarships, hire new faculty and update facilities. The goal is to raise a total of $1.6 billion by 2016.

Momentum 2 is the university’s largest fundraising initiative in its history. The Newman Alumni Center – as well as new buildings at the Frost School of Music, School of Architecture, and School of Communication – all stand on campus today because of funds that were raised during the university’s first Momentum campaign, which closed in 2007 and raised $1.4 billion from more than 131,000 donors.

“We hit the billion earlier than we expected so we’re very happy and pleased about that,” said Sergio Gonzalez, the senior vice president for university advancement and external affairs.

The monetary mark was reached because of significant monetary gifts that closed just before the announcement, said Thomas LeBlanc, executive vice president and provost.

The campaign was already $100 million ahead of schedule when Momentum 2 was publicly announced this past February.

If the campaign continues to make this sort of progress, the university will still raise as much money as possible until the 2016 deadline, according to LeBlanc.

Funding scholarships, both need-based and merit, is one major area of focus. The goal is to raise $200 million in this category, and half of that goal has already been reached, according to Gonzalez.

There is also a concentration on study abroad programs. This includes raising money for stipends so that students go abroad in greater numbers and for enhancing or establishing UM study abroad programs, Gonzalez said.

Senior Kateryna Gontaruk will be graduating next semester but she hasn’t been able to study abroad.

“I wish I had done it,” she said.

Cost was a factor in her decision. The funds for study abroad stipends raised through Momentum 2 could have prevented this.

“I think it would have definitely helped to have more money,” Gontaruk said.

But, because of the funds raised through this campaign, students like freshman Michelle Jimenez will be able to study abroad.

Jimenez, a marine science major, thinks studying abroad in the Galapagos would be a valuable experience. But she said that it is kind of expensive to study abroad.

“It would be a factor maybe stopping me from going,” she said.

Momentum 2 money could change this.

“I would apply for whatever program or scholarship that is so maybe I could get it and I could go study where I want to go,” she said.

Construction of new facilities and renovation of old ones is another area of focus.

Many effects of the Momentum 2 are immediate, according to Gonzalez. Of the 14 promised facilities improvements, the Student Activity Center, the Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), and the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence are already underway.

Momentum 2 funds will also provide a new facility at the Frost School of Music and a reconstruction of the Toppel Career Center.

Assuming that the campaign is fully successful, the university will have raised $3 billion under the leadership of President Donna E. Shalala, according to LeBlanc.

“Relatively few universities announce a billion-dollar campaign after just finishing a billion-dollar campaign,” LeBlanc said.

Universities like Stanford, Duke and Harvard are among the few that have held successful multibillion-dollar campaigns. Stanford University set a record in higher education by raising $6.2 billion for the school.

“To be in the same breath with institutions that are hundreds of years old that are raising billions of dollars … is what makes this so impressive and such a unique story in higher education,” LeBlanc said. “I think it’s sort of the Miami swagger.”

More than 100,000 donors – ranging from large corporations to board of trustee members – have been sources of the funds raised thus far.

“I think that large number of donors just shows the grassroots effort and the widespread support we have received from a number of different folks,” Gonzalez said.

This particular campaign aims to increase contributions from alumni and parents, Gonzalez said. Community members without direct ties to the university have also played a significant role.

“They’re folks that love the institution, love its place in South Florida, and love to see the rise of the institution,” Gonzalez said. That’s another category of folks that are usually our largest group of donors.”

The largest campaign gift to date is a $100 million donation from the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, which will support research on the disease.

All of these supporters are helping UM on its mission to becoming “the next great American university.”

“We’ve become an institution that looks more and more like the very distinguished peer institutions in the country, the Harvards and Yales and Dukes of the world, that have made the case for private support over decades, if not hundreds of years, that allows them to be the very best at what they do,” LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc compared UM’s rise to that of Washington University in St. Louis and University of Southern California – two private research institutions that made “phenomenal progress in a short amount of time.”

“I think we’re next in line,” LeBlanc said.

 

November 7, 2012

Reporters

Lyssa Goldberg

Lyssa Goldberg is online editor of The Miami Hurricane. She is a senior majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in math. She has interned at Mashable and the Miami New Times, and her work has also been featured in The Huffington Post.


ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Campaign reaches $1 billion mark, UM nears elite higher education status”

  1. Legion says:

    As long as we have students advocating prescription drug abuse in the student newspaper, we can safely assume that UM is not an elite institution.

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