The University of Maryland, College Park launched a public fundraising campaign Friday it hopes will raise $1.5 billion for endowed faculty, capital projects, scholarships and new programs.
Prior to Friday’s launch event, the university had received pledges of more than $900 million toward the goal through a more limited and targeted campaign and hopes those commitments will help gather momentum to raise the final $600 million.
“I think that success breeds success,” said Craig A. Thompson, one of the co-chairs of the campaign. “When people see such a positive and spirited focus on the campaign, that people will want to be a part of it.”
The campaign is the university’s largest-ever fundraising push, topping its previous $1 billion campaign which ran from 2006 through 2012.
The funds already raised for this campaign include contributions from some of the university’s top donors and alumni, including the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation; Brendan Iribe; Kevin Plank; Barry and Mary Gossett; the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation; Emilio Fernandez; and an anonymous donor to launch the “Do Good” Initiative.
Part of the latest campaign aims to raise more money for scholarships and co-curricular activities, including internships and study abroad trips that can increase opportunities for students.
“We build students’ dreams — our dreams — one scholarship, one faculty member, one hands-on experience at a time,” Wallace D. Loh, the university’s president, said in a statement. “Together we will build our fearless future.”
Expanding those opportunities for students represents part of Thompson’s personal involvement in the campaign. A partner with Venable LLP in Baltimore, Thompson was raised by a single mother in the city. He applied to the University of Maryland in part because of Len Bias.
“If the university hadn’t accepted me, I have no idea where I’d be right now,” he said. “Once I got on campus, my worldview just changed dramatically.”
The campaign hopes to take advantage of the advances in technology and social media to reach a greater donor base, he added. Past campaigns have used events and phone calls, as will the new one, but innovations in communication has the university thinking bigger.
“With video conferencing, with social media, with different apps and ways of connecting, I think we can reach a greater number of people and also use technology to tell the story a different way,” he said.
As the school tries to grow as a public research university, giving will be an important part of that climb. Some significant university ranking systems, including the U.S. News and World Report rankings, include alumni giving as part of its caluclations.
The university also lags behind many of its peer flagship universities in terms of giving. A Daily Record survey last year found that the university ranked last in the Big Ten conference in terms of the size of its endowment.