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Design School Campaign Has Raised $1 Million Since Launch

Harvard President Drew Faust speaks in Sanders Theater alongside leading figures from the Graduate School of Design.
Harvard President Drew Faust speaks in Sanders Theater alongside leading figures from the Graduate School of Design.
By Vimal S. Konduri, Crimson Staff Writer

The Graduate School of Design has raised a little more than $1 million since the public launch of its fundraising efforts last September, when it had raised $69 million during its quiet phase, according to Theresa A. Lund, the managing director of the GSD Dean's Office.

The total, $70.2 million as of Feb. 28, represents more than 60 percent towards the school's goal of $110 million.

In an interview Thursday, Design School Dean Mohsen Mostafavi outlined three major priorities for the campaign: increased financial support for students, improvements to the “infrastructure,” including renovated and expanded facilities, and increased support for faculty and research.

Mostafavi said “financial support for students has to be at the forefront of our campaign” due to high levels of debt incurred by GSD students.

“The financial rewards upon completion as an architect are not very high,” Mostafavi said. “It does mean that students who make the commitment to those types of subjects have a higher-than-normal debt.”

Mostafavi said the school’s donor mix was “quite varied” because of its non-alumni donor base, singling out the large gift from the Evergrande Real Estate Group that helped establish the Center for Green Buildings and Cities.

University President Drew G. Faust at the Graduate School of Design capital campaign launch event in Septebmer 2014.
University President Drew G. Faust at the Graduate School of Design capital campaign launch event in Septebmer 2014. By Y. Kit Wu

“For a school like the GSD, it is imperative to have a very broad donor base,” he sais, adding that “the alumni with a background in design don’t always have numerous opportunities...to make large donations."

Mostafavi said the campaign has taken up a significant amount of his time, in part because of outreach to non-alumni donors.

“Because it is not necessarily only our alumni we are relying on, it means that we have to be prepared to discuss our plans, our projects, our agenda, our sort of aspirations, sometimes with people who don’t really know enough or they don’t know a lot about the school,” Mostafavi said. “What we call kind of the cultivation period or the amount of time that’s necessary to commit to this follow-up is quite immense.”

Beyond student financial support, updates mostly focused on energy efficiency and structural maintenance to the school’s existing space in Gund Hall, which will begin as early as this summer, according to Mostafavi. The school is also in the early stages of planning an addition to Gund for research space, classrooms, and offices. It will also provide spaces that are in short supply in Gund, such as medium-sized rooms, Mostafavi said.

The addition was described as a “five-story research tower” at the September campaign launch, but Mostafavi said Thursday that the word "tower" is “a little bit of an exaggeration.”

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Central AdministrationGraduate School of DesignFundraisingUniversityCapital CampaignUniversity News

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