The University of Texas at Austin today (Oct. 17) announced an eight-year capital campaign to raise $3 billion.
“We intend to become the best public university in the nation,” President William Powers Jr. said in announcing the Campaign for Texas. “This campaign will focus on the people who will help us do that. Our faculty. Our researchers. Our students. It will focus on programs and facilities. We will build on our strengths, and we will take our academic programs and research endeavors to the next level. And in doing so, we will perform even greater service to Texas and the world at large.”
Becoming the nation’s best has been central to Powers’ administration since he took office in February 2006.
“We change people. They change the world,” Powers said, echoing the campaign’s theme.
Each of the university’s colleges, schools and units has outlined specific campaign priorities and funding goals ranging from $5 million to $350 million. Campaign gifts will be used to recruit and retain first-rate faculty, create scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students, support research in all disciplines, expand academic programs and upgrade facilities and infrastructure. Advancements in each of these areas will strengthen the university’s competitiveness and its global impact.
“Great universities answer the great questions of our time,” Powers said. “How to generate economic growth? How to manage and prevent life-threatening disease? How to respond to the global energy crisis? How to protect the environment and our natural resources? How to live in a global community with many cultures, languages and perspectives? When the world asks, we answer. More important, we are studying the issues even before world events frame the questions.”
The Commission of 125, made up of more than 200 alumni, civic leaders and friends, evaluated the university from 2002-2004 and issued a set of goals for the next 25 years. Powers said university officials assessed the commission’s recommendations before deciding on the $3 billion figure.
“That’s a big goal, but we’re a big university,” Powers said in announcing the campaign to the university’s Development Board, its key fundraising advisory group. “And we’ve had a big impact on thousands of people who have taught, studied, performed and conducted research on this campus for the past 125 years.”
The quiet phase of the Campaign for Texas began Sept. 1, 2006, and since then the university has raised $700 million. The eight-year campaign will conclude Aug. 31, 2014. The university’s most recent capital campaign, “We’re Texas,” ran from 1997-2004 and raised $1.63 billion.
The 2006 start date was chosen partly to recognize donors who have made significant gifts to the university. Key donors during the campaign’s quiet phase included Ernest and Sarah Butler, Joe Jamail, Michael and Susan Dell, Tex Moncrief, former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe, the Belo Foundation, Robert W. and Maureen H. Decherd, the estate of James M. Moroney Jr., the Jim and Lynn Moroney Family Foundation, William and Beverly O’Hara, ATandT, Red McCombs, Julia Walther and Harold Simmons.
The goals for the Campaign for Texas come from a 2004 report by the Commission of 125. The commission’s vision: “The University of Texas will be the best in the world at creating a disciplined culture of excellence that generates intellectual excitement, transforms lives and develops leaders. The University of Texas will define for the 21st century what it means to be a university of the first class.”
The commission recommended the university develop a new undergraduate core curriculum and that it find visionary leaders for university academic departments and research centers while giving them the resources and authority to achieve their goals.
Kenneth Jastrow, chairman of the Commission of 125, will be chairman of the Campaign for Texas.
“During the 1930s, as the economy was mired in the Depression, UT alumni banded together in a capital campaign to raise money for the construction of the Texas Union, Gregory Gymnasium, Anna Hiss Gymnasium and Hogg Auditorium,” said Jastrow, former chairman and CEO of Temple-Inland Inc., an Austin-based Fortune 500 company. “The theme of the campaign was ‘For Texas, I Will!’
“In the uncertainties of the 1930s, the UT alumni said, ‘For Texas I Will,'” Jastrow said. “And they acted on it. They didn’t say, ‘For Texas I Will–When Things Get Better.’ No, they completed the construction of the four buildings between 1930 and 1933. You and I didn’t have a chance to make that happen, but what a great privilege it was for those who did. We may have missed that opportunity, but today we have another chance through our participation in the new capital campaign.”
Powers said university leaders had considered postponing the campaign start because of uncertain economic times–some Texans are still recovering from Hurricane Ike, and the U.S. economy is struggling.
“But we took the long view,” Powers said, “the long view of an organization that has endured for 125 years. While we are sensitive to everyone who is dealing with today’s challenges, we know that our goals extend over many years. Time marches ahead, and so will The University of Texas at Austin. We have the opportunity–and the people–to make UT the great public university in America.”