Kennedy School Nears $500 Million Campaign Goal

Joining various schools and Harvard as a whole on an impressive fundraising pace, the Kennedy School of Government has raised at least $460 million as it works toward a $500 million capital campaign goal.

The $460 million figure represents the fundraising drive’s progress as of late September, according to Archon Fung, the Kennedy School’s acting dean. It also represents 92 percent of the school’s fundraising target.

The public phase of the school’s capital campaign kicked off with a two-day event in May 2014, by which time the school had already raised $336 million in the campaign’s quiet phase. The school had raised $383 million by last February.

Although Fung and former Kennedy School Dean David T. Ellwood ’75—who stepped down last semester after a decade at the school’s helm—had previously predicted an “inevitable slowdown” in fundraising after Ellwood’s departure, Fung said the campaign has not lost its momentum.

President Calderon at the JFK Forum
David T. Ellwood '75, left, will stepped down as dean of the Kennedy School of Government at the end of last school year.

“We booked $460 million in this goal out of $500 [million], so we’re going to reach that, our goal, very soon, and that’s in large measure thanks to Doug,” Fung said, referencing former U.S. Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas W. Elmendorf, who will assume the deanship on Jan. 1. “Even though he’s not officially on the job, he’s been working hard on the development front and building the personal relationships among the people that have supported the school for a long time.”


In an interview last February, Ellwood had said he expected fundraising to slow in the next few years once the new dean comes on board, suggesting that since the “vast majority of [the Kennedy School’s] money comes from people who aren’t even Harvard graduates,” philanthropy is based on confidence, trust, and long-term relationships that could be disrupted by the transition.

Although Fung said the school “fully anticipate[s]” exceeding its capital campaign goal, he does not plan on raising the official target, following the lead of University President Drew G. Faust, who has said officials have no plans to raise the $6.5 billion goal of Harvard’s overall campaign. Still, Fung said Elmendorf will have to carefully consider priorities for the second phase of the campaign and align them with institutional aims.

“A couple of the issues we’ve been talking about internally are the need for even more on the fellowship front, especially endowing fellowships, so that there’s lasting sources of money for students so that they can pursue publicly-oriented careers, and also professorships,” Fung said. “One of the things it would be great to walk out of the campaign with is more professorships, more chairs, so that we can bring in additional people to the Kennedy School on the faculty side.”

The capital campaign supports a number of Kennedy School initiatives, most notably the ongoing $126 million campus remodeling and expansion effort, which Fung said will be funded entirely through philanthropy. The construction will add 77,000 square feet of new building space and is focused in part on facilitating an active and experiential learning experience. Other focus areas include fellowships, research funding, and investments in the school’s pedagogical operations.

—Staff writer Luca F. Schroeder can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @lucaschroeder.


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