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COUNCIL: State of the University
October 30, 2007, Volume 54, No. 10

Vice President John Zeller: Making History

This last weekend was the public launch of the largest campaign in Penn’s history and one of the largest campaigns in the United States. It culminated a good three years of planning leading up to what were two very public events. I’m going to try give you a sense of where this all fits. First and foremost, why would you have a public kickoff and why are we structured this way?

Penn went beyond that by trying to create opportunities to not only hold a kickoff gala but also an all-inclusive event, which was the “Celebration on the Green” to bring together all the constituencies in one Homecoming. What wasn’t so apparent were the ten Boards that also met simultaneously. Three days of Trustees’ meetings, plus the two events that Dr. Gutmann spoke about. We had 500 volunteers on campus who were involved in a variety of activities having to do with both fundraising and alumni relations.

The first was the “Celebration on the Green,” an all-inclusive event to help celebrate the excitement around the launch of this large campaign. An invitation was sent out by email from Dr. Gutmann to the entire campus community. When we began this process, we were concerned that we couldn’t get 3,000 people to show up. By Thursday we had already registered 3,000 people. What we didn’t anticipate, was over 6,000 people actually came to the celebration, it was a wonderful turnout.

The kickoff gala was the “The Time is Now, the Place is Penn.” This brought together all of our leadership, Boards of Trustees and Boards of Overseers. That is over 600 individuals alone, in those two categories. Add in alumni, donors, and other representatives across the constituency and that number quickly swelled to over 12,000 individuals that potentially could have attended, so having 1,800 people together in one location was critically important. Why did we do this? We do it for a couple reasons. One is clearly to raise money and the focus is on the big number—the $3.5 billion. But as Dr. Gutmann said in many instances, this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and this just gives an idea of what we have to accomplish in the next five years. We’ve enjoyed tremendous success launching at $1.6 billion, which is a tremendous vote of confidence in a campaign of this magnitude. To have 46 percent of our goal in hand is a tremendous testament to the work of our trustees and our volunteers across the board, but there is a great deal left to go.

But more important than the $3.5 billion is how is it constructed, how is it comprised and embedded in these core priorities that Dr. Gutmann has already spoken to you about. Nearly $620 million will be endowed for faculty support. Undergraduate student aid $350 million, graduate student aid $323 million. Campus life, in addition to a College House, that also includes $20 million for the renovation of the ARCH and the Science and Research building, totaling $1.7 billion of core priorities. I’ve presented to this group in the past about how we got to the $3.5 billion, almost $2.6 billion represents the highest priorities from all the schools and the centers and the hubs and the diversity alliance.

One of the things that we have in our campaign that very few other campaigns in the country have put out with equal footing is the engagement of non-financial goals. Campaigns create focus and a unique opportunity to generate a timeline of engagement and coordinated activity. To that end what we want to do with the end of this campaign is to have much more robust programming regionally, nationally and internationally for our alumni—we want to increase class activity, particularly at the undergraduate level. We already enjoy tremendous success in our classes and reunions program but that also means beginning at Freshman Orientation for Penn Traditions and moving through the four years, giving students a better understanding of what it is that they are a part of and then continuing that, in the 15 years afterwards and beyond. That links into our alumni career-networking component. We have 280,000 graduates around the world and there is a great deal that we can learn and benefit from one another.

Annual giving participation, is not necessarily about a financial goal, although I’d be happy to give out pledge cards. It’s really about engaging people in participating in some way in the future of this institution. People ask: In a $3.5 billion campaign how will $10 really make a difference in the overall goal? And my answer to that is, if you looked at our fundraising goals for last year, nearly 25 percent of the $400+ million that was raised came from gifts of $1 to $99,000. Now, granted–$99,000 is a lot of money, but there are a lot of gifts that span that, from nearly 105,000 individuals, so collectively it’s critically important.

And lastly, we want to develop leadership for the future. Over the next ten years, we want to create portals of entry, access and engagement that allow Penn alumni to feel a part of the fabric of this institution in a meaningful way that ultimately will lead them to future leadership positions, to the Board of Overseers, to other committees and activities and ultimately to the Board of Trustees.

Proudly Penn

So how do you tell people about the fact that we announced this campaign besides what we just did? This is the second year of a publication, Proudly Penn, an Alumni Guide—this year the last pages are devoted to each of the schools and centers identifying their campaign goal, what the leadership structure is—the dean and the chair of the campaign—as well as a brief summary of the highest priorities. It also has a section on Penn Connects and serves as a very good resource guide of contacts with the institution. Last year as part of the Alumni Relations’ strategic planning process, we made a conscious decision that we will mail the Gazette to all available addresses of alumni around the world, some 240,000 people. It will be the principle communication vehicle for the University of Pennsylvania. This year embedded in that, will be the Proudly Penn. They will be mailed in about a week and a half; it will be a great package to inform people about not only the campaign but the priorities.

Core Priorities

Making History: The Campaign for Penn, is on the cover of our Case Statement. Each center or school has developed their own priorities and documents to support that. What we have produced will be used over the course of the next five years to convey the vision of what this campaign is all about and the impact it will have. It will be part of the documents we use as we go forward with solicitation of individuals.

We’ve launched the Making History website, www.makinghistory.upenn.edu with all the Case Statements and the materials from each of the schools and centers. It’s a great resource for individuals who seek to find information about our campaign.

In addition to the local events, we are also going to be hosting alumni events in many locations throughout this academic year. In addition to that, for the next three and a half years following, we hope to go out to select regions around the country as well as the world, taking faculty with us to run academic symposia. One of the things that we heard repeatedly from all of the sessions with alumni and friends, they love to hear about from our faculty. So that is our strategy going forward. It promises to be a busy four and a half years.


Almanac - October 30, 2007, Volume 54, No. 10