USC’s Building on Excellence campaign, launched in 1993 with a goal of $1 billion, is the most successful fundraising effort in American higher education.
USC announced on Feb. 26 that it raised $2,850,143,933 in cash and pledges during its nine-year fundraising drive.
This nearly triples its initial goal and concludes the most successful fundraising campaign in the history of American higher education.
More than 350,000 individuals, foundations and corporations contributed to USC during this campaign, said President Steven B. Sample, who made the announcement during his annual State of the University address in Bovard Auditorium.
USC’s Building on Excellence campaign began in July 1993 as a seven-year effort to raise $1 billion, then seen as an extremely ambitious goal for the university. (Its previous campaign, which concluded in 1990, had brought in $642 million over six years.)
When the $1 billion goal was reached in February 1998, 2-1/2 years ahead of schedule, the USC board of trustees raised the bar to $1.5 billion and extended the campaign by six months.
When that goal was passed in 1999, still a year ahead of the original schedule, the trustees voted to raise the bar again—to $2 billion—and extended the campaign by two years, to December 2002.
The $2 billion goal was reached by June 2001, and the university closed the books on the campaign with a total of $2,850,143,933.
The only other university to surpass $2.8 billion is Columbia University, which closed its 10-year campaign in 2000, with $2.844 billion.
“This has been a saga with many heroes—trustees, deans, faculty, staff, students, parents and neighbors. But most of all we owe the success of this campaign to the more than 350,000 donors who believed that USC was a worthy place to invest their funds,” Sample said.
Among the highlights of USC’s campaign:
Four gifts of $100 million or more were received during the course of the campaign, a record for American higher education.
o About half of the money raised went into endowment, helping to create 125 new endowed faculty positions. USC’s endowment at the end of fiscal year 1989-90 was $490 million; at the end of fiscal year 2001-02 it was $2.1 billion.
o USC faculty and staff donated nearly $5 million from their own salaries to provide grants in support of community partnerships in the neighborhoods nearest the university’s two campuses.
o Alumni contributed more than $1 billion to USC during this campaign. Alumni giving—a key measure used by various organizations to rate American universities—rose from 13 percent at the start of the campaign to 34 percent in 2001-02.
o University Athletics had the most successful fundraising program in its history, raising $141 million.
Also during this period:
o A $500 million construction program was begun, dramatically reshaping the landscape of both the University Park Campus in downtown Los Angeles and the Health Sciences Campus.
o A $100 million faculty hiring initiative was announced by the university’s College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
o A $1 billion initiative was begun at the Keck School of Medicine to recruit 135 new faculty and provide 585,000 square feet of new research space on the Health Sciences Campus.
USC’s receipt of four nine-figure gifts is a national record. The four gifts are:
o $120 million from the Annenberg Foundation, given in 1995 to create the USC Annenberg Center for Communication;
o $112.5 million from Alfred E. Mann, given in 1998 to establish the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering;
o $110 million from the W. M. Keck Foundation, given in 1999 to support USC’s medical school, now the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
o $100 million from the Annenberg Foundation, given in 2002 to support the USC Annenberg School for Communication.
Five schools received naming gifts during the campaign; each gift, at the time of its announcement, was the largest ever of its kind. In addition to the Keck School of Medicine, they include the following:
o The USC Leventhal School of Accounting, a $15 million gift in 1995 from long-time USC trustee Kenneth Leventhal and his wife, Elaine Leventhal;
o The USC Marshall School of Business, a $35 million gift in 1996 from alumnus and trustee Gordon S. Marshall;
o The USC Rossier School of Education, a $20 million gift in 1998 from alumna and trustee Barbara Rossier and her husband, Roger Rossier;
o The USC Thornton School of Music, a $25 million gift in 1999 from Flora Laney Thornton.
The Keck School’s Department of Urology also was named in recognition of cumulative gifts of $10.6 million from Catherine and Joseph Aresty.
Other notable gifts supported new construction and landscaping, including these projects:
o The Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, a $60 million state-of-the-art research facility on the Health Sciences Campus, will officially open March 8. It is named in appreciation of a $20 million gift from Los Angeles businessman Selim K. Zilkha.
o The Harlyne J. Norris Research Tower, a $93 million addition to the USC/Norris Cancer Center and Hospital on the Health Sciences Campus, is currently in design. It is named for USC trustee Harlyne Norris and supported by a $15 million grant from the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation.
o The Ronald Tutor Hall in the School of Engineering, named in recognition of a $10 million gift from USC trustee Ronald Tutor.
While not directly funded by the campaign, USC has achieved distinction in three other areas during the past decade.
o USC is now among the most highly selective universities in the United States in undergraduate admissions. Average SAT scores and GPAs of the entering class rose from 1070 and 3.42 in fall 1991 to 1335 and 3.96 in fall 2003.
o Federally funded research at the university has grown from $206 million in 1992 to $356 million in fiscal 2000-01, putting USC among the top 10 of private research universities.
o The university’s comprehensive programs in community partnership and outreach resulted in its being named Time magazine’s “College of the Year” for 2000.