Momentum Miami

UM announces billion-dollar fundraising goal

‘Momentum’ campaign to collect donations to support University-wide improvements

UM President Donna Shalala has recently announced “Momentum: The Campaign for the University of Miami”- a $1 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign for UM and the most ambitious and wide-reaching in the University’s history.

“It’s an opportunity for those who care for the University of Miami to step up and help us accelerate progress, empower learning and discovery and intensify our impact on people in our city, across the country and around the world,” Shalala said.

The goal of the campaign, to raise $1 billion by 2007, makes Momentum the largest campaign announced by any university in the state of Florida. UM is one of only 25 universities in the nation seeking that amount.

“We have chosen ‘Momentum’ as the name of our campaign because we think it captures perfectly the vitality and enthusiasm of this University,” Shalala said. “We are a University on the move – we are charging ahead with the force of a hurricane.”

To date, the campaign has already raised $552 million, $275 million of which was raised this year alone and is set aside for endowments, program support and other projects. The overall goals of the campaign are to recruit the most promising students and provide scholarship opportunities; to create endowed teaching chairs; to attract the most gifted professors, scholars and technicians from around the globe; to endow new interdisciplinary centers and institutes; and to enhance research initiatives across UM’s campuses.

“This is a campaign about people, a campaign to enhance the University’s investment in our students, faculty and staff.” Shalala said. “This is a campaign of people who have a passionate commitment to this very special university of ours, to what it stands for, to what it has become and to what it can yet achieve.”

The remainder of the billion will be raised through various channels to attain the goal by 2007.

“Part of the fundraising will be grass roots because, in essence, we will be appealing to students, faculty, parents and alumni,” Sergio Gonzalez, Vice President for University Advancement said. “Every gift is helpful to the University, no matter how small.”

At the launch event, UM celebrated its benefactors by inducting them into honor societies and announced the creation of two new honor societies.

Dr. Phillip and Patricia Frost were honored for their individual gift of $33 million to the University, which renames the School of Music The Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music in their honor.

“When I’m asked, ‘Why are you so committed to the success of the University of Miami?’ I can honestly say the University is what attracted me to Miami. I came here in 1965, when I was recruited to join the faculty of the medical school,” Dr. Phillip Frost, chairman of the UM Board of Trustees and chair of Momentum, said. “It was an important turning point in my life, providing me with tremendous opportunities.”

“I feel as though I owe the University something in return,” Frost said.

Other donors shared Frost’s passion for the University and its contribution to their lives.

“I inherited a passion for this university and a commitment to continue its success,” Dean C. Colson, vice chair of the UM Board of Trustees and executive vice chair of Momentum, said.

UM alum Sheikh Tarek Al-Fassi and his family were inducted into the George E. Merrick Society for those who have contributed $1 million or more.

“I have to give something to the University for the great job UM did for me,” Al-Fassi said.

Al-Fassi also has two children who are students in the School of Business.

“For someone like me, who comes from outside the United States, UM has a great potential to be an international school,” Al-Fassi said. “You see people from all over the world, but they feel that UM is their home. That is how I feel, how my kids feel.”

The campaign itself will help fund many improvements to UM.

“The students get better, the facilities get better, because of the funds,” Colson said.

The campaign focuses on all aspects of the University including people, programs and new buildings. Priorities for the campaign have been shaped over years of strategic planning by administrators, trustees, alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of UM.

“You start with an idea, then raise money for bits and pieces – then you put it all together,” Dr. Paul Sugrue, dean for the School of Business, said.

Among the anticipated additions to campus courtesy of the campaign are new buildings, endowments and scholarships on all campuses and in all schools.

Sugrue told The Miami Hurricane that one of the additions will be a virtual library for undergraduate business students. The new building, according to Sugrue, will also include residence halls and an undergraduate career placement center for business students.

Sugrue said the project should be completed in Fall 2005.

The last campaign ended in 1990 after surpassing its goal of $400 million. The money funded the construction of the Knight Physics building, established the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and provided $23 million in scholarships.

According to Shalala, the campaign is coming at a time when most universities are afraid to try to raise funds because of the economy.

“We did not want to wait,” Shalala said. “Students are lucky they have a president that is very impatient – I did not want to wait.”

Beginning with the creation of UM in 1926, contributions have helped the University expand to the level it is at now.

“Our University’s growing reputation for excellence has been carved from the astonishing contributions of our faculty and staff, from the impressive achievement of our students, from the inspired leadership of past administrators,” Shalala said. “And from the remarkable generosity of friends and alumni all over the world who, in giving so generously, have given us a margin of excellence.”

For more information about the Momentum Campaign or how to contribute visit

Leigha Taber can be contacted at