Penn has officially made history.
Penn President Amy Gutmann announced in a campus-wide email Friday morning that the University’s “Making History” fundraising campaign has reached its $3.5-billion goal.
The announcement comes 15 months ahead of the scheduled close of the campaign in December 2012.
“This accomplishment is a testament to the generosity, loyalty and enthusiasm of our alumni, volunteers, friends and supporters,” Gutmann said in the email, adding that it “demonstrates what is possible when Penn people come together around the common goal of making history and making Penn the best.”
On Sep. 15, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported that Penn had raised $3.48 billion toward the campaign. At the time, Gutmann said she expected Making History to come to a close before the end of the calendar year.
Although the $3.5-billion goal has been met, the campaign will still run through the end of 2012.
Gutmann said in an interview that Penn will continue to “see how far past $3.5 billion we can go” before that time comes.
“We’re not going to pick another number — we’re just going to see how much we can raise for our greatest priorities,” she said. “We have every reason to have very high expectations.”
Launched under Gutmann in October 2007, Making History is a “comprehensive campaign” in which each of Penn’s 18 schools and centers have committed to fundraising for both themselves and for a set of University-wide “core priorities,” Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations John Zeller wrote in an email.
While Penn has reached its overall fundraising mark, parts of the campaign — including core priorities like undergraduate and graduate financial aid, building and renovation projects and endowed support for faculty — still have a way to go before completion.
The University has currently raised 74 percent of the $1.67 billion set aside for the campaign’s core priorities, Zeller wrote.
Of that total, Gutmann said, $350 million have been designated for undergraduate financial aid. To date, Making History has raised 81 percent of those funds, she added.
Lisa McClatchy, assistant vice president for development and campaign director for Making History, said current fundraising totals on a school-by-school basis were not yet available. She did note, however, that “every school and center has priorities they are working to raise funds for in the remaining time of the campaign.”
Marybeth Gasman, a Graduate School of Education professor who specializes in higher education philanthropy research, said the next few months will be key if the University hopes to both meet and surpass its remaining goals by next December.
“The immediate future will be the optimal time for a major push because you have the adrenaline of the campaign starting to kick in,” Gasman said, adding that the months of November and December are generally the most ripe for fundraising because of tax season. “Alumni want to be affiliated with a successful campaign, and that’s what this time offers.”
She said she would not be surprised if Making History eclipsed the $4-billion mark by its close.
While the campaign has relied heavily on multi-million dollar gifts — including a record-breaking donation of $225 million from Raymond and Ruth Perelman in May to the now-renamed Perelman School of Medicine — a substantial part of its driving force has come from smaller, individual pledges, Zeller wrote.
To date, the campaign has received gifts from 201,420 donors — 597 of whom have given $1 million or more, Zeller wrote. Twenty-five percent of donations have fallen within the $1 to $100,000 range.
Though history has now been made, Gutmann said the time to stop and celebrate will be when 2012 comes to a close.
“This is a huge achievement for our University, but we still have much work to do,” Gutmann said. “Today we can savor how far we’ve come and relish the great faith that our alumni and supporters have in Penn’s future, but our real celebration will come in [January] 2013, when the campaign concludes and we hope we have even more astounding progress to cheer.”
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