George Washington University has formally launched the largest fundraising campaign in its 200-year history, seeking $1 billion to boost its academic, development and financial aid efforts.
And the school, the largest institution of higher education in the District, is already more than halfway to its goal.
The campaign began its “quiet phase” in July 2011, and has since raised $525 million from 45,000-plus donors. University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said it is typical for an organization to delay a public campaign kickoff until about half the money is hand.
“Our ambitious goal — $1 billion to be raised by June of 2018 — will enable us to implement the strategic plan that was unanimously adopted last year by the Board of Trustees and provides the blueprint for achieving the full greatness that was always in this university’s future,” GWU President Steven Knapp said in a statement.
Knapp, Board of Trustees Chair Nelson Carbonell Jr. and campaign Chair B.J. Penn, the former assistant secretary of the Navy for installations and environment, launched the “Making History: The Campaign for GW” effort during a trustees event Friday on the grounds of the Mount Vernon Estate.
The raised funds will build on GWU’s “Vision 2021,” the strategic plan that will guide the school’s growth up to its 200th anniversary.
The money will be used to build new facilities such as the Science and Engineering Hall and Milken Institute School of Public Health; to hire and retain “renowned faculty members”; to create an undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Academy; to meet a higher percentage of its students’ financial needs; and to renovate residence halls and athletic facilities.
The university announced several large gifts in the spring, building momentum toward the formal launch.
Those include $80 million from the Milken Institute, the Sumner M. Redstone Charitable Foundation and the Milken Family Foundation to address public health issues; $2.5 million from the Nelson A. and Michele Carbonell Family Foundation to fund an autism and neurodevelopment disorders initiative; and $5 million from GWU Trustee Mark Shenkman to expand student and alumni career opportunities.
The university today educates 25,000 students in 10 schools and colleges, and employs 1,225 faculty. It is one of the District’s largest private landowners and developers.
It operates three local campuses, several graduate education centers and nearly 100 research centers and institutes. Roughly 60 percent of its students receive some measure of financial aid, and the university has a fixed tuition policy — where a student’s tuition remains the same for up to five years.
It’s a lot of money that GWU is working toward, $1 billion, but it’s not the largest Washington-area school campaign. Georgetown University’s “Generations to Come: The Campaign for Georgetown” sought to raise $1.5 billion. That effort was launched quietly in 2006 and publicly in October 2011. It passed $1 billion in March 2013 and is expected to run through July 2016.