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Statue of John Harvard in Harvard Yard // CC0

On Thursday afternoon, Harvard University announced that its ambitious capital campaign raised $9.6 billion dollars, surpassing its original goal by $3.1 billion and shattering the previous record for higher education fundraising.

Harvard launched its capital campaign five years ago with a goal of raising $6.5 billion. The campaign was spearheaded by the University’s then-president Drew G. Faust, who stepped down as president this past June.

Although the campaign officially concluded in June 2018, the Harvard Crimson reported that the University exceeded its capital goal and the previous record for higher education fundraising in April 2016. The previous record was held by Stanford University, which raised $6.2 billion at the end of 2012. 

Penn launched a sizable fundraising campaign of its own in April 2018, which set as its goal to raise $4.1 billion. The campaign, which is considered the University’s most ambitious in its 278-year history, was approved by the Penn Board of Trustees and is scheduled to last until 2021.  

The campaign is entitled “Power of Penn Campaign: Advancing Knowledge for Good.” This is the second fundraising campaign in Penn President Amy Gutmann’s 14 year career — the first of which amassed over $4.3 billion from 326,592 donors between 2007 to 2012.

Harvard's campaign has undergone significant criticism since its origin. After a generous donation of $400 million from hedge fund magnate John A. Paulson, some have denounced the campaign on the grounds that the gift was “unnecessary and excessive for one of the world’s wealthiest schools.” Harvard has consistently ranks among the richest schools in America.

The funds raised through the latest campaign will be allotted to financial aid, house renewal, endowed professorships, and research initiatives, including projects focused on climate change and cancer research.

The funds from the Power of Penn Campaign will be apportioned to undergraduate and graduate financial aid in an effort to minimize the burden of debt and student loans. The campaign will also expand the reach of the Penn First Plus initiative, a program that allows more first-generation students the opportunity to earn a higher education.

Its online goals state the Campaign also aims to promote advances in every health field at Penn — including Penn Dental, Penn Nursing, Penn Medicine, and Penn Vet. Funds will also be invested in immunotherapy research with the goal of making effective cancer treatments widely available.