The public phase of a comprehensive fundraising campaign led by a prominent team of volunteers was announced today by the University of Nebraska and University of Nebraska Foundation. The Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities seeks to raise $1.2 billion to meet high-priority opportunities and needs for the university’s four campuses.
It is the most ambitious fundraising effort in the 73-year history of the foundation. Fundraising for the campaign began in 2005 and concludes in 2014; more than $642 million has been raised so far in gifts and pledges.
Nebraska native Jeff Raikes, a campaign leadership volunteer and chief executive officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said he’s involved because of his family’s strong ties to the state and university.
“I grew up with a real sense of how important the university was to our work, to our family, and the valuable role the university plays in Nebraska,” Raikes said. “Each of my fellow campaign volunteers enjoys a personal connection to the university, and we believe in the unlimited possibilities this effort represents for students and for the areas in which the university is excelling.”
Omaha business leader and philanthropist Walter Scott, a campaign leadership volunteer, said he’s supporting the Campaign for Nebraska because of the opportunities the university offers to future generations.
“The University of Nebraska is all about our children and giving them the education and skills that will prepare them to fulfill their dreams of being future leaders for our state,” Scott said. “To keep them in Nebraska, there has to be attractive career opportunities; the university has a crucial role to play in ensuring those opportunities will be here for each new generation, and that is why I am supporting this campaign.”
James B. Milliken, president of the University of Nebraska, said the primary goal of the campaign is to enhance the university’s ability to serve Nebraska.
“We want the University of Nebraska to be the best public university in America in terms of the impact we have on the people we serve,” Milliken said. “That’s what motivates us, and it’s what we’re working to achieve.”
The priority areas supported by the campaign include:
“The priorities for the campaign are areas that will matter to the future of Nebraska; they are also areas in which the university has traditionally excelled, and in which we believe we can have a global impact,” Milliken said. “With the momentum we’ve enjoyed over the past few years, we can achieve these goals.”
Milliken said the campaign builds on recent successes, including the highest enrollment in 14 years, record high test scores for incoming freshmen, success in keeping more of the state’s top scholars in the state, and a more diverse student population with larger numbers of out-of-state, international and minority students. He also pointed to the great strides made in the university’s research enterprise, with a record $229 million in external funding in 2009—a 22 percent increase over the previous year.
Clarence L. Castner, president of the University of Nebraska Foundation, said the university’s history of successful campaigns is beneficial and is attributed to individuals and organizations in Nebraska and across the nation who care about the quality of the institution.
“Private support has been instrumental in helping to move the University of Nebraska from good to great,” Castner said. “And now we’re seeking another investment to move from a great to a premier institution in the world.”
The Campaign for Nebraska also represents the university’s largest endeavor to involve volunteers in all areas of the campaign. More than 100 volunteers are serving in various roles, including on the executive committee, campus committees or college committees. The executive committee includes: James Abel of Lincoln, Susie Buffett of Omaha, James Clifton of Washington, D.C., Michael Dunlap of Lincoln, John Gottschalk of Omaha, Larry Hall of Grand Junction, Colo., Howard Hawks of Omaha, Bruce Lauritzen of Omaha, Raikes of Seattle and Ashland, Neb., Walter Scott of Omaha, Ronald Williams of Denver, Gail Walling Yanney, M.D. and Michael Yanney of Omaha, and James Young of Omaha.
The campaign is the university’s third comprehensive campaign. The Nebraska Campaign between 1977 and 1980 had a goal to raise $25 million and surpassed it by raising $51 million. The university’s last major campaign, Campaign Nebraska: One University, One Nebraska between 1993 and 2000 surpassed its initial goal of $250 million by raising $727 million.
More information about the campaign is available at campaignfornebraska.org.
The University of Nebraska Foundation also announced fundraising results of its fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. During the last year, more than $128.1 million was raised in total gifts, bequests and life insurance proceeds. During the same period it transferred $102.8 million to the University of Nebraska’s four campuses, including support for students, faculty, academic programs, research, and for campus capital improvements.
According to Castner, it was the foundation’s second best fundraising year. The previous fiscal year (2007-08) was its best year with $166.5 million raised.
“Given the recent recession, we are especially amazed by the generosity of donors, no matter the amount they’re able to give or the area they enjoy helping,” Castner said. “We strongly believe their passion for the university is because they understand the opportunities a premier education and research institution can offer to the state’s people and to the economy.”
The market value of the foundation’s assets for the fiscal year totaled $1.37 billion, down $228.7 million from the previous year. The endowment managed by the foundation totaled $964.9 million. The total return on the endowment was –21.3 percent for the year.
In other news, the University of Nebraska Foundation announced Omaha native Nancy Keegan of Los Angeles as the new chair of its board of directors. She replaces Harley Bergmeyer of DeWitt, whose two-year term as chair expired. Keegan, a Harvard Business School graduate and retired investment banker, is past managing director of Crosshill Financial Group in Washington, D.C.
The University of Nebraska Foundation is a private, nonprofit corporation that has been raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for more than 70 years. Last year, $102.8 million was transferred to the university to support students, faculty, academic programs, research, and for campus capital improvements. More information is available at nufoundation.org.