Harvard's Foreign Billions

Harvard's $2 billion capital campaign is big. In fact, it's the largest such campaign in the history of higher education. And to raise that kind of dough, Harvard will have to look outside the U.S. to the kind of wealthy entrepreneurs who make the cover of Forbes. Many already have connections to the University. But some have raised questions about the influence of...

The adjective used most often to describe Harvard's $2 billion campaign is "University" wide."

"Unprecedented" and "massive" are also used when talking about the largest such campaign in the history of higher education.

But one adjective you don't hear much about -- and one that will be critical to the success of the unprecedentedly massive, university-wide capital campaign -- is this one: "world-wide.

In other words, raising $2 billion dollars is a lot easier when you can draw on a pool of wealthy donors that is global, and not confined to citizens of the United States.


Development officials weren't immediately available yesterday afternoon. They were either in meetings (planning for the campaign), or they were on the road (fundraising).

Still, a multitude of signals point to the fact that Harvard plans to fundraise on a planet-wide scale.


President Neil L. Rudenstine, during just two years in office, has already traveled to Europe and the Far East.

His recent trip over spring break to Japan was not intended as a fundraising trip, Rudenstine said. But John P. Reardon '60, president of the Harvard Alumni Association, described the trip at the time as "a cultivation process," and said that while traveling Harvard administrators weren't "finishing any deals" or "asking for money," they were trying to involve alumni who might eventually help with the capital campaign.


In the last two years the University's central development office has hired an associate director for international fundraising and an East Asia development representative. While Rudenstine disbanded an "internationalization" office set up by his predecessor, Derek C. Bok, the new president seems to recognize the power of a specialized staff working on international issues in the fundraising office.

Early Money

Perhaps as result of the new staff, and perhaps as a result of unrelated factors that had already converged in the late 1980s, Harvard has already achieved several well-promoted success on the international fundraising front.

"The Shiseido Corporation of Japan pledged Harvard $85 million over 10 years, beginning in 1989. The money was to be used to build the Harvard Cutaneous Biology Research Center in conjunction with Massachusetts General Hospital.