Momentum Campaign gets closer to billion-dollar goal

For an everyday person, there are a plethora of things to do with a billion dollars. For the University of Miami, having $1 billion means better students, better faculty and better standards.

Since late 2003, the University leaders have been engaging in a comprehensive billion-dollar fund-raising campaign. The Momentum Campaign, as it is called, has had a wave of major donations recently. So far, $922 million have been pledged.

According to the campaign’s website, the three priorities of Momentum are “strengthening endowment support for faculty and students, funding construction, renovation and other capital projects and enhancing annual giving.”

In other words, the fund plans to allow the University to recruit and retain better students, athletes and teachers, improving the University reputation and ranking as a result.

“The goal of the Momentum Campaign has always been the same: funding scholarships, professorships and faculty chairs, as well as building new facilities,” Sergio M. Gonzalez, vice president for university advancement, said.

This fundraising effort is coordinated by many people within the University community, including the Board of Trustees, administrators, faculty, alumni, donors and students, all joined in achieving one goal: $1 billion by mid-2007.

The campaign has had a huge success to date. Most of the current total comes from alumni, local corporations and individuals who have great affinity with the University of Miami.

Among the biggest donors are Phillip and Patricia Frost, and the late Leonard Miller. As one of the first benefactors, the Frost family gave $10 million to benefit the School of Music. Miller, the biggest donor to date, contributed $100 million to the School of Medicine. As a result of his generosity, the Miller School of Medicine now carries his name with honor.

How the funds will be divided among the schools and programs is already determined. Usually, the decision of where the money goes is made by the donor, who may have a passion for a particular program of the university.

For example, donors Marta and L. Austin Weeks funded the building of the Marta and L. Austin Weeks Music Library because of their appreciation for music and education.

The Music Library is not the only new building on campus. Another current construction project funded by money from the Momentum Campaign is the Nursing School.

In addition, a new students’ activity center is being planned to be built, which would include renovating and expanding the current University Center.

Students, as well as administrators, feel optimistic about the future of the University when they learn about the campaign.

“It’s great that the University is getting more money,” Andrew Barrett, junior, said. “A billion dollars is a huge sum of money to accomplish.”

In fact, Momentum is one of only 24 billion-dollar university fund-raising campaigns nationwide. To reach the goal of a billion means much to the university and its supporters.

“We have a lot of success with alumni as well as non-alumni,” Gonzalez said. “We’re very appreciative of families and friends of the university who helped.”

Bryce Pham can be reached at