With a year and a half left in its capital campaign, the Graduate School of Design has raised $92 million out of its $110 million goal, though several key initiatives such as financial aid and building expansion lag behind.
“Graduate education financial aid has been more challenging to raise money for in this Harvard campaign than any of us anticipated,” the school’s Associate Dean of Development and Alumni Relations Beth Kramer said.
The campaign, however, has recently bolstered its financial aid fundraising. Since the school hosted its first fellowship fundraising event in the spring, the GSD has received multiple donations towards new fellowships.
On Oct. 25, the GSD launched the Zaha Hadid/Omniyat Fellowship Fund to provide financial aid to Middle Eastern students. The following week, the school created the Phil Freelon Fellowship, which will fund African American and other underrepresented architecture and design students to attend the school.
Kramer said the development team still has its work cut out for the school to continue raising money for financial aid.
“We believe there is a universal case to be made for financial aid whether it be undergraduate or graduate education, and I think that just hasn’t happened yet,” Kramer said. “We have to roll up our sleeves and start thinking about new ideas about how to make that case.”
The GSD is planning an expansion on its main building, Gund Hall, to accommodate its expanded faculty and student body but has faced difficulty mobilizing philanthropic support with construction plans still tentative.
“We need that architectural vision to go out and excite a donor base for that Gund Hall expansion, and we are in the planning stages of that right now,” Kramer said. Design School campaign co-chair Philip L. Harrison ’86 said he hopes that the GSD will be able to unveil a finalized building plan next spring.
Harrison said that the GSD will continue raising money after the official campaign end date in April 2018, particularly to help fund the building expansion. According to Kramer, the building will cost $60 million or more, and money will have to come entirely from fundraising.
Harrison attributed some of the campaign’s challenges to a less affluent alumni pool and the fact that “the whole discipline of alumni outreach and development is new to the GSD.”
“We’re developing something which didn’t exist in the past, and we hope to put the structures in place to lay the groundwork for future campaigns,” Harrison said.
Harrison said he hopes that recent movements to create partnerships with other schools will broaden the pool from which the GSD draws donations.
“Now with new relationships, the relevance of the GSD as it relates to other professions and disciplines is growing, and that is one way we measure our success,” Harrison said. “We see this as a more ambitious campaign than just raising funds but also raising the platform of the school.”
The campaign has raised $4 million over the last eight months. Harrison said he is confident that the school will hit its target by the April 2018 deadline.
—Staff writer Theo C. Lebryk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @theo_lebryk.
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