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Capital Campaign Plans Underway

Fundraising is in 'Quiet Phase'

By Gautam S. Kumar and Zoe A. Y. Weinberg, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard is currently in the quiet phase of a multi-billion dollar capital campaign, which will aim to raise money for House renewal and development in Allston.

The total sum of the campaign—while so far undecided—could exceed Stanford University’s recent $4.3 billion campaign, according to senior Faculty of Arts and Sciences administrators and donors.

“It will obviously be a record-breaking number,” said a member of the Committee on University Resources (COUR), an advisory group of some of Harvard’s top donors.

Given the ambitious nature of the projects that are likely to be included in the campaign, one senior FAS administrator said that the campaign’s target figure would likely break fundraising records.

“It has to be very large, by nature of what we want to do,” the FAS administrator said.

Though Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development Tamara E. Rogers ’74 would not comment on whether or not Harvard’s eventual campaign would exceed Stanford’s recent fundraising effort, she said that the University would likely set a “very ambitious goal.”

Several individuals with knowledge of the capital campaign who were interviewed for this story were granted anonymity in order to preserve their relationship with the administration given that the quiet phase is not public.


According to administrators, House renewal—an ambitious project to renovate the College’s residential houses—has been identified as the campaign’s top priority, though development of Harvard’s Allston campus is also high on the list.

While administrators are unsure of the final cost of the House renewal project—one said that “I’ve seen so many numbers that I don’t know which ones apply anymore”—many said that the final cost could range from $1 billion to $1.3 billion.

In an interview yesterday, University President Drew G. Faust maintained her commitment to the process of House renewal, saying that “House renewal is going to happen.”

In particular, administrators have identified significant improvements to be made in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning of the buildings.

The College is also reviewing the April 2009 recommendations of the Housing Program Planning and Committee, which offered plans for revamping social spaces in the Houses and bringing the Houses up to fire, environmental, and accessibility standards.

Yale in recent years embarked on a major project to renovate its residential college system, which is similar to Harvard’s House system. Members of the COUR have toured Harvard’s Houses and have also visited Yale’s residential colleges, which some consider a model for the University’s own renovations.

“A group of us did a tour of the Harvard houses and some of the Yale colleges led by [FAS] Dean [Michael D.] Smith and we saw the difference. I think that the Harvard Houses have to be brought up to speed,” said one member of COUR.

Administrators announced earlier this year that they will renovate a portion of Quincy House in 2012, which Faust said will serve as a test case for future renewal projects.

“What Quincy will enable us to do is get a sense of what we discover when we take the pieces of the building apart and what we discover about the logistics of renewal,” Faust said.

While University leaders agree that the campaign will focus on House renovation, several members of the FAS administration say there is less clarity about the fate of Harvard’s properties in Allston.

According to one administrator with knowledge of discussions surrounding the capital campaign, Allston will play a significant role in the capital campaign as plans to establish the Allston properties as a center for science research remain on the table. Administrators have also entertained the idea of building one or more residential houses in Allston, but exact plans for the development’s future remain shrouded in uncertainty.

The University had originally planned to build a $1 billion Science Complex in Allston, potentially in addition to a neighborhood of undergraduate houses. Harvard broke ground on the Science Complex, but halted construction in December 2009 due to financial constraints.


Before the public start of a capital campaign—a specified period of targeted fundraising—administrators solicit gifts from large donors in a quiet phase. During this phase, the University determines its priorities and sets monetary objectives accordingly.

Current fundraising efforts are largely focused on soliciting donations from the most generous donors, and the results of this outreach will influence later planning.

These fundraising efforts are not public and have been discussed as part of the planning process for the eventual campaign.

“As I have indicated several times, the FAS is in the process of planning for an eventual University-wide campaign,” Smith said in a statement.

FAS is not responsible for the timing of the University-wide campaign but will help in the fundraising efforts.

According to Rogers, institutions will often raise a one-third to 40 percent of the total goal in the quiet phase—which includes pledges, gifts, and planned giving—before the public launch.

As of yet, no date for the public launch has been set.


The University originally began the quiet phase of a capital campaign in 2005, but those plans were suspended after the rocky departure of then-University president Lawrence H. Summers. The capital campaign was further delayed by the financial crisis that followed.

Then-Vice President of Alumni Affairs and Development Donella M. Rapier said in 2005 that Harvard’s capital campaign would likely be the largest ever in higher education, “definitely” surpassing the University’s 1999 campaign, which totaled at least $3.4 billion, in current real dollars. At that time, Rapier said at the time that “high level” goals had been set but that dollar amounts for specific initiatives had not been fully determined.

Since that time, however, University officials have taken a fresh look at the priorities.

University-wide capital campaigns offer institutions of higher learning the opportunity to raise large sums of money for long-term initiatives and offer an indication of a university’s priorities.

“I think the genesis of [university-wide campaigns] in many ways was the dawning realization of what we know so well now, which is if you truly want to do the absolute best research and recruit the absolute best students and give them the best experience, you’ve got to think university-wide,” Rogers said.

—Staff writer Gautam S. Kumar

—Staff writer Zoe A. Y. Weinberg can be reached at

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Central AdministrationFASFAS AdministrationFundraisingAllstonUniversity FinancesDrew FaustHouse RenewalCapital Campaign

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