University of Virginia officials announced this weekend that they are seeking to raise $3 billion in private gifts by 2011, a campaign intended to allow the university to offset shrinking state funds and expand programs and facilities to compete with prestigious private universities.
To reach its goal, the university would have to more than double the $1.4 billion raised in the last seven-year campaign, which ended in 2001. Carol Wood, a university spokeswoman, said the development office's staff of about 100 people intends to make 25,000 visits to potential donors as well as thousands of telephone calls, with the goal of raising at least $1 million each day.
The goal ranks as one of the most ambitious set by any university in the nation for a single fundraising campaign, Wood said. In March, officials of the State University of New York, a large university that has 64 campuses, announced they intend to raise $3 billion by 2012.
University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III said yesterday that the university needs the influx of private funds to build state-of-the-art facilities, pay competitive salaries to professors and staff and provide financial help to students.
"My interest is seeing that what we do is equal to the best anywhere. It's simply the case at this time that the state is not paying its bills in that respect, and private donors can," he said. "This is about endowing programs that are essential to our students. It's about attempting to keep charges to students under control. It's about better buildings."
Virginia is among several states that have reduced public higher-education funding over the past two decades, a shift that has prompted the University of Virginia and other public institutions to ramp up private fundraising efforts and increase tuition. In 1985, the state provided 28 percent of the school's total budget; that fell to 13 percent in 2000.
Last year, for the first time in the university's history, revenue from private gifts and endowments, which accounted for 8.3 percent of the budget, exceeded state funding, officials said. This year, state funds account for 8.1 percent of the $1.7 billion operating budget, which also covers the university hospital and a satellite campus in Wise. Private funds account for 7.9 percent, Wood said.
Most of the university's revenue comes from tuition and fees, research grants and patient billing.
Wood said the "quiet phase" of the campaign began in January. Robert D. Sweeney, senior vice president for development and public affairs, outlined the plan for the Board of Visitors on Saturday. As of April 30, the university had raised $150 million.
Although the university is still coming up with a list of projects it hopes to fund if the goal is reached, officials expect that the money would pay for a new art museum and performing arts center as well as new buildings for the College of Arts and Sciences, which would include laboratories, classrooms and gathering areas, Wood said. The university also plans to build a children's medical center and a cancer research and treatment facility.
In addition, Wood said, officials want to create programs that mingle students and faculty from several disciplines. For example, the university intends to create an institute on aging that would mesh resources from the medical school, psychology department and law and business schools.
Funds also would be used to provide competitive salaries for professors and other employees, an issue Casteen considers a matter of "fairness."
Casteen said that he is confident that the university will reach its goal and that the bar probably will go even higher. "In the past, we have found that the targets actually grow as you move forward, and we expect that to happen this time also," he said. "Three billion is a fairly conservative target."
Staff writer Amy Argetsinger and researcher Don Pohlman contributed to this report.