KU is more than halfway to $1.2 billion campaign goal

The University of Kansas is still reaching for its ultimate goal — to be recognized nationally among the top-tier research institutions in the country.

Four years ago, in the thick of the recession, KU launched a billion-dollar campaign to pay for the things it needs to climb in the college rankings.

With $612 million now raised, KU announced this week that it is more than halfway to achieving its largest fundraising goal in school history. While the campaign among the biggest donors actually began in the summer of 2008, the public launch was just last month. The campaign is scheduled to end in June 2016.

“The campaign’s name, ‘Far Above,’ reflects our goal to elevate KU to new heights,” said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

The $1.2 billion goal is earmarked for $400 million for student scholarships, fellowships and opportunities outside the classroom; $325 million for academic programs, research, clinical and community engagement initiatives; $300 million for professorships and recruitment of top faculty and staff; and $175 million for construction and renovation of facilities.

To date, 246 scholarships and 14 professorships have been established using campaign money. Also, campaign funds have gone toward the KU Cancer Center’s quest for National Cancer Institute designation, a new educational pavilion at the Lied Center, a new School of Medicine in Salina and expansion of the Wichita campus.

Cancer care and radiation oncology pavilions were created and named for donor Annette Bloch and her late husband, Richard Bloch.

Gray-Little said that with state support to higher education decreasing year after year, successful fundraising efforts are fundamentally important to public universities. She said KU has been able to increase its fundraising, managed by KU Endowment independent of the university, every year for the past three years.

A campaign that ended in 2004 brought in $653 million, surpassing its goal by more than $100 million.

The fundraising success KU is seeing is not unlike what schools across the country have been experiencing.

In December 2008, the University of Missouri finished a $1 billion campaign, its largest ever, and surpassed its goal by $3.8 million.

Last year the University of Southern California launched a $6 billion campaign, the largest fundraising effort in the history of U.S. higher education.

A survey released in February by the Council for Aid to Education found that charitable contributions to U.S. colleges and universities increased 8.2 percent in 2011, reaching $30.3 billion.