After Aspire, some celebration
Following the capital campaign — the largest campaign in the University’s history — Vice President for Development Elizabeth Boluch Wood said her office plans to convey its gratitude to those who donated and continue aggressively raising money through Annual Giving.
Boluch Wood added that the University will continue to discuss with the trustees which capital projects should be fundraising priorities now that the Aspire campaign is over.
The campaign focused on growing Annual Giving, which is an important initiative for the University because it provides the administration with a flow of unrestricted capital that it can spend as it sees fit, according to co-chair of the Aspire Campaign Executive Committee Robert Murley ’72. Annual Giving had a 60.8 percent participation rate last year, which set an all-time record high.
Murley added that capital campaigns are crucial not only to raise money but to bring the University community together.
“Campaigns serve such an important role; new campaigns have a wonderful way to bring the Princeton family together and get people reengaged, help them get reconnected to a place that they love, and it’s energizing,” Murley said. “It’s quite important to have campaigns every eight, 10 and 12 years.”
The Aspire campaign raised money for the construction of the Arts and Transit Neighborhood. The plans are moving forward, but have faced opposition from the Princeton Borough Council because they involve moving the train station 500 feet to the south.
The campaign also focused on enhancing the University’s neuroscience program. Last spring, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ’86 donated $15 million to the University for the neuroscience program.
One challenge for these campaigns is that University priorities are constantly growing and changing, according to Murley.
“There will always be new needs that we weren’t able to include in the campaign, things that we hadn’t anticipated at the beginning of the campaign or that were outside the campaign environment,” Murley said.
University President Shirley Tilghman’s predecessor, Harold Shapiro GS ’64, retired shortly after the completion of a fundraising campaign. While Tilghman’s Aspire campaign overshadowed similar efforts of decades past in size, she has indicated that she has no plans to retire.
Murley noted that while the capital campaigns in the 1990s took place when the economy was booming, the Aspire campaign withstood the financial crisis.
“We are very proud of the fact that we were able to overachieve our goal on time during a time when other Universities were scared to announce campaigns or they were giving up on them,” Murley said. “When people ask me ‘Is Princeton a good long-term investment?’ I am usually pretty fond of saying that Princeton is older than the country and that yes, it will always be a good long term investment.”