UC Berkeley campaign raises more than $3 billion for campus

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UC Berkeley’s latest fundraising campaign raked in $3.13 billion from more than 250,000 donors, officials announced Thursday, surpassing the goals of the almost nine-year campaign.

The Campaign for Berkeley, which the campus ran from July 1, 2005, to Dec. 31, 2013, raised millions more than its initial goal of $3 billion, with donations from 281,855 supporters.

“This was a historic campaign not just for Berkeley, but for all public universities in the United States,” said former chancellor Robert Birgeneau in an email. “No one could have imagined that we could raise $3 billion. We not only raised the $3 billion, but we exceeded it.”

The money raised will be used to create scholarships, fellowships and faculty chairs as well as build or renovate campus buildings. Additionally, the number of endowed undergraduate scholarship funds has increased by 36 percent and endowed graduate scholarship funds by 85 percent.

As state support for public universities declines — UC Berkeley received about 10 percent of its budget from the state in 2011-12, down from 52 percent in 1981-82 — universities are turning to new ways to generate revenue, such as fundraising campaigns. Colleges such as the University of Michigan and the University of Texas have launched similar campaigns.

C. Judson King, director of the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley, said although he was not familiar with the specific campaign, private donors play an important role in the success of public universities like UC Berkeley.

“It’s huge, particularly with the reduction in state support that has occurred,” King said. “The biggest challenge to the university is to find private sources that are truly supportive of the public mission.”

A milestone in the campaign came in 2007, when the campus received its largest private donation ever: $113 million in a challenge grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The majority of the Hewlett funds was matched dollar for dollar through the challenge — to a total of $220 million — to raise money for 100 endowed faculty chairs.

This is not the first major philanthropic campaign the campus has run. The Keeping the Promise Campaign raised $465.6 million from 1985 to 1990, and the New Century Campaign raised $1.44 billion from 1993 to 2000.

“The Campaign for Berkeley has helped tremendously in creating a new culture of philanthropy among Cal’s alumni, parents and friends,” said campaign communications director Jose Rodriguez in an email. “Fundraising does not suddenly stop now that we have completed this campaign. We will need to continue building ongoing support for the campus if Berkeley is to continue remaining Berkeley: the world’s preeminent public teaching and research institution that is firmly committed to its public mission.”

Mitchell Handler covers academics and administration. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @mitchellhandler.