After five years of extensive fundraising, the University raked in $1.88 billion through the Aspire campaign, beating its goal by $130 million in the largest capital campaign in the University’s history.
The campaign lasted five years and came to an official end on June 30. It overcame the challenges posed by the global economic crisis, which architects of the campaign said dampened alumni donations. President Shirley Tilghman launched Aspire in November 2007 before the recession had taken hold.
The University reported that more than 65,000 individuals had donated nearly 272,000 gifts to the campaign, which have financed major developments in its six priority areas: creative and performing arts, energy and the environment, developing the neuroscience department, global involvement and student life.
The Aspire campaign has funded various capital projects, such as building the new Lewis Center for the Arts — which jump-started the fundraising effort — and the renovation of Butler College. Most recently, the University announced that Trustee William Fung ’70 had donated $10 million as part of the Aspire campaign to create a postdoctoral fellowship program for international faculty.
"In countless ways, the Aspire campaign has reinforced our traditional strengths while allowing us to break new ground and prepare to achieve our highest aspirations for the years ahead,” Tilghman said in a statement.
The campaign lost a key member of the fundraising brain trust, former Vice President for Development Brian McDonald ’83, midway through the capital campaign. McDonald left the University in March 2010. He said he initially planned to leave earlier but was compelled to stay due to the threat posed to the campaign by the collapse of the financial industry.
McDonald was succeeded by current Vice President for Development Elizabeth Boluch Wood, who has been involved with the campaign since she began working at the University.
Despite these hurdles, the Aspire campaign was always on pace to meet its fundraising goal of $1.75 billion. The University began a “quiet phase” of the campaign in 2005 before the official launch. It raised over $600 million in this period.
After officially launching the campaign in 2007, the University raised $52 million during the first four months.
Three years into the campaign, the University had raised $1.26 billion, or 72 percent of its total. This past February, University officials said that the campaign had raised 94 percent of its total and said they were confident they would raise the remaining money in the final months of the campaign.
The Aspire campaign, which Tilghman oversaw in its entirety, was the University’s fourth capital campaign. Each of Tilghman’s last three predecessors had launched similar capital campaigns, though Tilghman’s dwarfed the others in size.
The first coordinated fundraising push, conducted by former University President Robert Goheen ’40, raised $60 million, including a $35-million gift from the Robertson family to fund the Wilson School’s graduate program.
Tilghman had previously told The Daily Princetonian that she would retire once the Aspire campaign concluded but has since walked back that plan. This schedule was modeled after Tilghman’s immediate predecessor, former University President Harold Shapiro GS ’64, who retired a year after the completion of the Anniversary Campaign for Princeton, which also surpassed its initial fundraising goal. Shapiro’s campaign raised nearly $1 billion.
The University also announced that Annual Giving raised $57.2 million in the last year of the campaign, also a new record.
Correction: Due to an editing error, the amount that Aspire fundraising exceeded expectations was misstated. The Aspire campaign raised $130 million more than its goal. The 'Prince' regrets the error.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/07/11/31039/