University of Miami Passes $1 Billion in Fundraising Bid

The University of Miami has raised more than $1 billion in its fundraising campaign as President Donna Shalala seeks to bolster medical research and increase financial aid and faculty at Florida’s top-rated college.

Since January 2008, the school has received 124 donations of more than $1 million as it targets $1.6 billion by 2016, Shalala said in a phone interview from the Coral Gables campus. The single largest gift, $100 million, came from the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation after Shalala expanded medical-research programs and opened a biomedical institute in 2009.

“We’ve done what we told our donors we’d do, and that’s become a world-class research institute,” said Shalala, who headed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton. Enhancements to the university’s medical campus have “made a big difference in this campaign.”

Fundraising is ahead of schedule, Shalala said, even as Florida struggles with an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent as of September, higher than the national average of 7.8 percent. The U.S. economic slowdown since 2008, precipitated in part by a housing glut in Florida, caused some donors to extend their donations over a longer period, said Sergio Gonzalez, the university’s vice president for external affairs.

“We’ve had to make the case stronger than ever that there would be an impact from these donations,” Gonzalez said. “Folks are really looking to make gifts that they believe will be transformative.”

100,000 Donors

By comparison, Princeton University completed a five-year fundraising campaign on June 20, raising a record $1.88 billion. Harvard University is expected to start a $6 billion fundraising effort next year, the Harvard Crimson student newspaper reported in April.

Among the 100,000 donors who have taken part in the Miami campaign is arts patron Adrienne Arsht, former chairman of TotalBank, who made a $5 million commitment. An additional $8 million came from hoteliers Patti and Allan Herbert. The school’s endowment was valued at $678.7 million as of May 31.

Once the campaign is completed, the university expects to put at least $200 million of the funds raised toward need-based scholarships at the school, where tuition and fees, room and board and other expenses is almost $59,000. The school has already used donations to establish 17 endowed chairs and professorships and build or renovate 14 facilities, including a wellness center and research laboratories.

Founded in 1925, the University of Miami is the highest-ranked college in Florida, according to an annual survey by U.S. News & World Report, placing 44th in 2012. Alumni include U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Olympic diver Greg Louganis, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo and Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, former chief executive officer for American International Group Inc.

The school’s previous campaign, which ended in 2007, raised $1.4 billion, the university said. Shalala has served as president since 2001.

A study commissioned by the university and published Oct. 22 said the school has an economic impact of more than $6 billion in south Florida.

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