University of Pittsburgh raises more than $2 billion in capital campaign

Fundraising effort spanning 14 years called largest in Western Pennsylvania history

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The University of Pittsburgh has raised more than $2 billion in a capital campaign that spanned 14 years, hitting a total that Pitt officials say makes it the largest fundraising initiative in Western Pennsylvania history.

The announcement was made Friday by Chancellor Mark Nordenberg to a crowd of donors and alumni gathered on campus for Pitt's 225th anniversary homecoming weekend.

"We think $2 billion is quite an accomplishment. It does position Pitt as being in the major league of fundraising," he said.

He said this places Pitt among 10 U.S. universities pursuing publicly announced campaigns of $2 billion or more, including University of California Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, City University of New York (CUNY), Duke, University of Pennsylvania, Penn State, Texas and Virginia.

The $2 billion allows the university to increase scholarships, research funds and the number of endowed chairs and to make major capital improvements.

Of the total, 76 percent has been received and the remainder is in the form of pledges being paid over time.

The Building Our Future Together capital campaign began quietly in 1998 and was announced publicly in 2000, with the goal to raise $500 million. It hit that mark by 2000, when the target was increased to $1 billion.

In 2007, the mark was upped again to $2 billion and the fund currently stands at about $2.05 billion. The total is more than eight times larger than Pitt's previous campaign, which was launched in 1987 and raised more than $251 million.

There were 182,000 donors to the Building Our Future Together campaign, 88,000 of whom were alumni. About 40 percent of the donations came from alumni with 60 percent from private organizations and foundations.

Of the donors, 315 gave $1 million or more, 17 donated between $10 million and $25 million and 11 gave more than $25 million.

Two of the largest donations led to the renaming of schools. The Swanson School of Engineering was named for Ansys Inc. founder and alumnus John Swanson who donated $41.3 million in 2007.

The Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences was renamed after the father of the late trustee and donor William S. Dietrich, a former steel industry executive who donated $125 million in September 2011, just weeks before his death.

Some of the buildings constructed with funds from the campaign include the John M. and Gertrude E. Petersen Events Center, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the John J. Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation.

Nearly half of the total raised -- $992 million -- came from donors outside of Pennsylvania.

"Pitt is a powerful magnet for attracting funds into the commonwealth and in particular to our communities," Mr. Nordenberg said.

He said Pitt "became better at getting out the message of all the good things happening at Pitt and already had put in place programs and networks that helped us to reach outside of the Western Pennsylvania region."

He also said some donors were interested "in investing in a particular cause whether a search for a cure for a particular disease and if you are recognized as a place that is likely to produce results then the donations will come without any pre-existing loyalty."

One-third of the funds are designated to create endowments, 593 for student scholarships and fellowships, 145 for faculty chairs and named professorships and hundreds for research in specified areas, student life and faculty enrichment. Of the total, $210 million has been committed by donors for scholarships and fellowships.

Mr. Nordenberg said the campaign will conclude June 30. "Though you can be sure other campaigns will be coming," the chancellor said.

education - businessnews

Mary Niederberger: mniederberger@post-gazette.com; 412-263-1590.


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