University Prepares for Capital Campaign's Public Launch

University alumni and donors from around the world are flocking to Harvard Square this weekend to celebrate Saturday’s public launch of The Harvard Campaign—widely predicted to be the largest fundraising drive in University history.

As the two-year “quiet phase” of intense internal planning comes to a close, many prominent donors have said that they are optimistic about the launch of the campaign.

“I think the going to be a spectacular Saturday in Cambridge,” said Sidney R. Knafel ’52, a longtime donor whose most recent public donation was a $10.5 million gift to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

In an emailed statement, University President Drew G. Faust said that she was also excited for the launch and the arrival of many visitors from afar.

“I look forward to engaging members of the Harvard community from across the globe as we celebrate the campaign launch and reaffirm Harvard’s commitment to be at the forefront of creating knowledge and deploying that knowledge in service to the world,” the statement said.


During Saturday’s events, University leaders will announce the campaign’s monetary goal and disclose the amount of money it has raised thus far, highly anticipated numbers that have been kept secret.

Typically, universities complete a large portion of their intended fundraising before publicly launching a capital campaign. A number of campaign gifts—some larger than $10 million—have already been announced. In addition, many of the Campaign’s University-wide priorities—such as house renewal, development in Allston, and a campus center—have been made public.

Later this fall, individual schools will also hold public launches, announcing their own priorities and goals.

Knafel, who is a Campaign co-chair, said that the total target would likely be very large.

“I think it’s going to be a big figure, and I think we’re going to go beyond it,” he said.

Knafel added, however, that the University would be careful not to set a goal that it could not meet.

“You certainly don’t want to fall shy of it,” he said. “I think they’re being very careful about getting the right figure.”

Joseph J. O’Donnell ’67, a Campaign Co-Chair and longtime donor who gave generously to Quincy House renewal, said that the campaign goal would set records.

“It’s a tremendous amount,” he said.

Daniel H. Rothenberg ’04, who is participating in the campaign as an alumnus for the first time, also said that he has heard the quiet phase “went very well.”