University announces massive fundraising campaign

By Kathleen Foody

The University will formally launch a $2.25 billion fundraising campaign Friday evening at Chicago’s Navy Pier, one of the nation’s largest fundraisers in higher education.

Of the total, $1.5 billion is the goal for the Champaign-Urbana campus.

The “Brilliant Futures” campaign will focus on bringing in more private donations from alumni and supporters of the University.

The campaign began quietly in July of 2003 and is set to continue through the end of the year 2011.

Rather than focusing on campus building projects, the venture is aiming to increase support for students and faculty programs, as well as research.

The campus plans to use the funds raised to “provide excellence in academic programs, encourage breakthrough knowledge and innovation, create transformative learning environments,” according to a press release issued by the University of Illinois Foundation.

“Increased private support will allow us to fulfill our historic land-grant mission of providing the students of today with an excellent education,” said Chancellor Richard Herman in the release.

The campaign is the third of its kind for the University. The last campaign ran from 1991 to the end of the year 2000 and raised $1.53 billion in private donations, one of the largest gains for a public university at the time.

Only 10 campaigns larger have been launch or completed. Four of those are public institutions and also include the University of Michigan, the University of California Los Angeles, Stanford University and Yale University.

“This campaign is about excellence and access,” said University President B. Joseph White in the release. “It’s about supporting students and faculty because they are the heart and soul of the University.”