COUNCIL State of the University
November 6, 2012,
Volume 59, No. 11
President Gutmann said that John Zeller has been a phenomenal force for alumni relations and development.
John H. Zeller, Vice President, Dev. & Alumni Relations
I spoke with this group five years ago, soon after we’d kicked off one of the largest fundraising campaigns in the history of American higher education. The task was clear: Raise $3.5 billion by December 31, 2012, to elevate Penn’s capacity and reputation from excellence to eminence.
We already had an articulated vision in place for Penn’s future as one of the nation’s premier university research institutions, The Penn Compact. It was a solid foundation on which to build a Campaign, because it was comprehensive and multifaceted. Donors could define what mattered most to them—access to education, integrated knowledge, civic engagement, groundbreaking research and global connection—and we could demonstrate that Penn had the ability to make a real difference in all of these areas. Penn had a great story to tell, and there were opportunities for everyone to be involved.
Since then, the Campaign has strengthened virtually every corner of Penn, and enormous credit goes to the Deans, volunteers, staff, Trustees, Overseers, and so many others who have coalesced around this initiative.
Our donors have been generous. Our capital projects, such as Penn Park, the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, the Neural and Behavioral Science Building, Golkin Hall, the Music Building, the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, the expanded Libraries, the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, the Smilow Center for Translational Research… the list goes on. All of these were made possible in large part by private gifts.
Our faculty—the indispensable element at Penn—define the Penn experience for students and alumni. We have raised over $530 million to date toward this Campaign priority, and launched the highly successful Penn Integrates Knowledge Initiative. As a result, we are better able than ever to recruit and retain the very best faculty and staff.
Increasing access to Penn is another Campaign priority. With just over $600 million in commitments, we are building a more diverse and accomplished student body. Today, if you are a qualified undergraduate student without the financial resources to attend Penn, you have the financial aid that makes a Penn education possible. And we are providing the support that outstanding graduate and professional students need in order to advance their careers without the burden of insurmountable debt.
At the same time as we are transforming Penn into a model for 21st century higher education, the Campaign is ensuring our University’s continued financial stability: We have reached our ambitious $1.75 billion target for commitments to the endowment.
Commitment is an important word in this Campaign, especially when it comes to our donors. Our donors don’t just pledge generously; they honor their commitments. As you know, our original Campaign goal was $3.5 billion. As of today, we have achieved 99% ($3.42 billion) of that goal in cash. Just think about that for a moment—what a testament to our loyal alumni, friends and donors, particularly given the economy.
Prior to the kickoff, we began with a “quiet phase.” In these final months, we have returned to that status. The numbers we are using publicly are from June 30 of this year, when overall Campaign commitments reached $3.88 billion. The next time you hear a number will be when we announce our results on February 28.
Both a goal and a result of this Campaign has been to increase alumni engagement, and I’m proud to say that participation on and off campus has surged. New strategies, like Engaging Minds, the Alumni Interview Program, and an enhanced Homecoming Weekend, featuring Arts and Culture at Penn have created a new level of affinity. Now…
- If you are a year or two out of Penn and looking to stay connected, you can attend a yPenn event, or a Penn to You event (a weeknight version of Engaging Minds)—in cities around the country.
- If you are an alum living abroad, you can connect with one of the 122 clubs around the world to socialize and career network.
- If you are an alum of color or LGBT alum with an interest in celebrating diversity, you can attend a Penn Spectrum on the Road event, and you should definitely save the date for Penn Spectrum 2013 next fall.
With a 63 percent increase in engagement since 2007, welcome to our new norm in alumni activity!
With all of this success, I remind you that we are not finished. With 61 days remaining, we are racing against the clock, focused on filling the few remaining gaps of our highest priorities. When I return to speak to you again, I’ll have more statistics and more insight into the success we’ve enjoyed.
But let me give you a glimpse of what we’re working on after December 31 (other than my vacation beginning the first of January).
As I mentioned, we will publicly announce the final Campaign numbers on the evening of February 28. On April 19, we’ll have a fabulous campus-wide party. Put it on your calendar. And then we’ll begin our regional celebrations—across the region, across the country and around the world.
As we build on this momentum, we are thrilled that our president has extended her contract for another five years. Under her leadership, we will continue to advance our University.
We have already convened University leadership to begin articulating the future goals and objectives of the institution. President Gutmann has been meeting with the Deans to begin this process of refining both our highest priority institutional goals and school-based goals as we move into a new phase. While we don’t anticipate a formal campaign, we will shift to initiatives including “evergreen” and programmatic priorities that will help define the case for support for the University and Schools and Centers going forward.
In short, I can promise you that under Dr. Gutmann’s leadership, Penn’s post-Campaign era will be defined by the same level of enthusiasm and immediacy that have characterized the past seven years.