Campus completes fundraising challenge two years earlier than anticipated

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UC Berkeley has established 100 new faculty chairs and gained more than $220 million in endowment funding over the last five years as part of a fundraising challenge, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced Monday.

The campus completed the unprecedented Hewlett Challenge two years earlier than anticipated by raising $110 million in private donations to be used for faculty chair-holders, their departments and their students.

Started in 2007 by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the dollar-for-dollar challenge committed $113 million in endowment funds — the largest private gift in campus history — to the campus to endow chaired faculty positions. For each position that the campus funded, the foundation matched that amount.

The foundation’s website said the endowment was given to “help ensure that California’s preeminent public university remained competitive with the nation’s best private universities.”

David Blinder, campus associate vice chancellor of university relations, said the joint effort between the campus and foundation was a rallying point for UC Berkeley.

“(It was) a chance to celebrate and bring together senior leadership of the campus with key donors,” Blinder said.

Since budget cuts have reduced the amount of funding the university receives from the state, the campus has increasingly looked to private donations to replace lost funds. In addition to the Hewlett Challenge, the campus began an eight-year philanthropy campaign, called the Campaign for Berkeley, in 2005 to raise $3 billion in private funds. As of Aug. 31, the campaign has raised $2.6 billion.

Of the $113 million endowment from the Hewlett Foundation, $110 million is used to match funds raised for faculty positions, and $3 million has been set aside for the campus to establish a professional infrastructure to manage the endowment.

Each chaired faculty position requires funds of between $1 million and $1.5 million. The $1.5 million amounts are used to fund distinguished chairs whose works span multiple departments, according to Jose Rodriguez, campus campaign spokesperson.

Rodriguez said the Hewlett Challenge presented a special opportunity to go beyond the way a faculty chair is traditionally funded. The endowments raised through challenge are different because they support not only the faculty chair-holder but also the academic department and graduate students.

To date, 69 of the faculty chairs have already been appointed, with the remaining 31 chairs already established but awaiting appointments, according to Rodriguez.

“This challenge demonstrated a rare opportunity for a campuswide fundraising effort,” Blinder said. “It was across the campus that people stepped up and approached potential donors and established interest and personal connections.”


Contact Geena Cova at [email protected].