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While the world toasted the new millennium on January 1, Harvard's development officers celebrated their own milestone: the end of the first University-wide capital campaign.
The campaign exceeded even Harvard's unprecedented ambitions. Buoyed by a decade of economic growth and stock market gains, donors contributed almost $2.7 billion in six years, beating Harvard's goal by more than half a billion dollars.
President Neil L. Rudenstine announced the campaign had met its goal more than three months early at an October 6 reception for large donors at the Harvard Club of New York.
"It's a goal greater than any other institution of higher learning in the history of the human race," Rudenstine said in October.
The numbers themselves tell an impressive tale. By the campaign's official end on Dec. 31, 1999, it had raised $2.653 billion from 174,378 gifts. In the last seven months alone, it raised $640 million.
Not only did the University as a whole surpass its goal, but each of the University's nine schools exceeded their individual benchmarks.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) was the last school to meet the target. But in a year, FAS moved from being $48 million short of its $965 million goal at last year's Commencement to exceeding it by $157 million.
According to Rudenstine, such success was certainly not automatic.
"So there is always a risk that the show will flop, and ours certainly had no guarantee of success," Rudenstine said in May. "We faced--almost inevitably--a profusion of potential difficulties."
While Harvard passed the donation plate to all its alumni, the most money came from the wealthiest few; 75 percent of the money raised came from gifts of over $1 million. The largest gift, from John L. Loeb '24, brought in more than $70 million.
"The bar has gone way up," said Rita E. Hauser, a national campaign chair who is herself a $30 million donor, at the New York ceremony. "Before this, if someone gave a million, it was considered a huge gift."
An expert in university fundraising said such success was not simply a result of the surging stock market. He noted total giving does not surge or plummet based on the ups and downs of the market.
But the rising stock prices have caused many more gifts to be given by donors in appreciated stock. Last year 40 percent of gifts were paid in stock versus 23 percent 10 years ago.
"Undoubtedly it [stock market appreciation] helped the campaign," said Development Office spokesperson Andrew K. Tiedemann.
The University started spending the campaign funds almost immediately. Early-stage projects like the renovation of Annenberg Hall, the creation of the Barker Center out of the old Harvard Union and renovations of the Yard Dorms have been completed.
The building boom continued this year. A huge yellow crane towering over Widener Library greeted students returning in the fall. The Maxwell Dworkin building on Oxford Street, funded by donations from Microsoft leaders William H. Gates III, Class of 1977, and Steven A. Ballmer '77, was dedicated as a computer science center in October.
Last semester's reconstruction of the Memorial Hall tower was criticized by some students as extravagant, even though the University could not redirect the $4 million targeted gift.
But despite the physical changes, administrators said the growth of financial aid is the most significant effect of the campaign.
Financial aid packages for undergraduates were boosted by $2,000 thanks to the $225 million raised for financial aid during the campaign.
Administrators note that in the year before the campaign started the College gave $35 million in financial aid. This year, the figure was $53 million.
"The dividend from these investments [in financial aid] will be felt in every classroom, in every athletic team and orchestra and in every aspect of the College," said Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles.
Other money from the campaign went to improve undergraduate education, including 28 new faculty positions and funding for more teaching fellow positions to decrease section size.
But the campaign fell short of its goal of 40 new endowed professorships in FAS. The high cost--$2.5 million per professor--discouraged many donors, along with a preference for more tangible, brick-and-mortar results.
The money has also reshaped the other schools. New centers proliferated, like Kennedy School of Government's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy or its Carr Center for Human Rights Policies, along with new professorships and fellowship money.
Knowles said the new funds have helped FAS inaugurate its most important new initiatives.
"What our donors have given us is nothing less than the freedom to bloom," he said.
But while $2.7 billion might seem like a lot, Harvard administrators say they cannot rest on their laurels.
"We have a moment we can grasp, for we have been extraordinarily fortunate in the timing of our campaign," Knowles said late last year. "We can't stand still. Standing still is not an option."
One of the most significant remaining projects is in serious jeopardy. The proposed Knafel Center for Government and International Studies on Cambridge Street hit a wall of neighborhood opposition this year. The building, which will ease crowding in the Littauer Center, is being reviewed by the city.
Knowles said new fundraising must begin again because a large majority of the campaign's funds are devoted to specific projects.
Knowles has said he wants to further increase the size of FAS even with the new professors added by the campaign. This year Knowles set the goal of getting funding to add six professors a year for the next 10 years, which will require $150 million donated over that decade.
Rudenstine also emphasizes the future will bring more needs for support of the University.
"There will, inevitably, be moments in the future--just as there have been in the past--when other challenges will arise, and we will be asked for help to guide Harvard and to keep it strong," Rudenstine said in May. "Indeed, there may possibly be far more difficult days ahead than we have witnessed in earlier eras."
Such challenges could include the development of the Allston campus. The University is widely thought to be considering moving one of the schools based in Cambridge across the river. Such a move and building a new campus would cost potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.
Moreover, charitable organizations today try to keep raising money at a fast pace, according to an expert in the field. This should mean the Harvard Development Office would have little rest.
The Development Office currently has no plans to reduce staff, Tiedemann says, and it will continue actively to solicit funds for the University's annual campaign and specific projects.
While the fundraising continues, however, the University paused briefly last month to thank those who made the campaign a success.
Harvard rolled out the red carpet on May 13 when the campaign's big givers were invited to Cambridge for the University Campaign Celebration.
The biggest donors were treated to a thank-you speech from Rudenstine and other University administrators, panel presentations from some of the most prominent faculty members and experts from outside Harvard.
They were wined and dined by the University as well. At the dinner held in the Gordon Indoor Track, donors were given a hardcover coffee table book detailing the campaign's successes.
At lunch held in Annenberg, Knowles joked that for once in the campaign, donors were getting a free meal without any ulterior motives of soliciting money.
But Rudenstine struck a more serious tone, noting that in addition to the monetary benefits, the campaign helped tie Harvard's alumni to their alma mater.
Many people affiliated with the University "had not even been waved at for a very long time" before the campaign, he said. "Suddenly they were all lavished with decanal, provostial and presidential attention."
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