Harvard Set to Unveil Delayed Fundraising Campaign

Harvard University will unveil the Harvard Campaign, the school’s first major fundraising effort since 1999, in a ceremony on Saturday.

Harvard President Drew Faust, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Co-Founder Bill Gates, and Carlyle Group Co-Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder David M. Rubenstein will speak at the event, according to a letter from Tamara Rogers, vice president of alumni affairs and development, to the college’s alumni that was obtained by Bloomberg News.

Knowledge generation across the natural and social sciences and humanities is the first of seven priorities that Faust set for the campaign. The fundraising effort, called a capital campaign, also comes as Harvard prepares to resume work on a science center that stalled after the 2008 financial crisis.

“I look forward to engaging members of the Harvard community from across the globe as we celebrate the campaign launch and reaffirm Harvard’s commitment to be at the forefront of creating knowledge and deploying that knowledge in service to the world,” Faust said today in a statement.

Surveys of universities show that, on average, they expect to accelerate fundraising by 40 percent over normal levels during capital campaign years, said John Lippincott, president of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education in Washington.

Seven Years

Harvard, which raised $650 million in its most recent fiscal year, might expect to collect $910 million in a campaign year, or about $6.3 billion to $6.4 billion in a full seven-year campaign, he said.

“Harvard may have all kinds of reasons to have a number that’s higher or lower than that,” Lippincott said in a telephone interview. “What’s really going to drive their number is what they’re hoping to accomplish in the campaign.”

The Harvard Crimson student newspaper has reported that the campaign goal will be at least $6 billion. In 2011, the University of Southern California, based in Los Angeles, set a goal of raising $6 billion in a multiyear campaign.

Christine Heenan, a spokeswoman for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard, declined to comment on the goal. The university’s last major fundraising effort ended in 1999 and raised $2.65 billion over seven years.

As financial demands increase, universities have generally waited no more than 10 years between large fundraising efforts, said Tim Seiler, director of The Fund Raising School at Indiana University. Harvard’s campaign was delayed by uproar surrounding the 2006 resignation of former president Lawrence Summers and the recession.

“The financial crisis threw a monkey wrench into many institutions’ plans,” Seiler said. “It put campaigns on hold; it stopped them until we had some confidence the economy would come back.”

Founded in 1636, and with an endowment valued at $30.7 billion, Harvard is the oldest and richest U.S. college.

(Corrects when USC’s campaign began in eighth paragraph of story that ran on Sept. 19.)
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