With At Least $6.5 Billion Raised, Harvard Sets Higher Education Fundraising Record

Harvard has surpassed its public goal and Stanford’s $6.2 billion capital campaign, which set a higher education record in 2012

UPDATED: April 12, 2016, at 12:33 p.m.

Harvard has raised at least $6.5 billion in its capital campaign, breaking a higher education fundraising record after only two and half years of its five year-long public drive, according to two donors with direct knowledge of the campaign’s progress.

With $6.5 billion raised, Harvard has surpassed its public goal and Stanford’s $6.2 billion capital campaign, which ended in late 2011 and set a higher education record. The first capital campaign at Harvard to involve each of the University’s 12 schools simultaneously, the fundraising drive aims to support student financial aid, a new campus in Allston, and the renewal of undergraduate Houses, among other priorities.

By the time of its public launch in September 2013, the “One Harvard” campaign had already raised $2.8 billion in gifts and pledges during its “quiet phase.” Since then, Harvard has attracted multiple high-level gifts that moved its total closer to the $6.5 billion target. {shortcode-eca693d24faad549a00303f0882c039dba632507}

Harvard last detailed the progress of its overall campaign in October 2015, when donations totaled $6.1 billion. Harvard administrators are generally tight-lipped about campaign data, and University President Drew G. Faust said earlier this month that Harvard times announcements to coincide with the end of the fiscal year or tax year. She said Harvard does not plan to release an updated figure until later this spring or summer.


University spokesperson Jeff Neal declined to comment for this story.

Despite the rapid success of the campaign, both Faust and Tamara E. Rogers ’74, vice president for alumni affairs and development, said last semester that Harvard had no plans to raise the campaign’s goal. Some peer institutions, like Columbia University, raised their fundraising goals during their own fundraising drives.

Unique to the current capital campaign is Harvard’s willingness to rename its schools in honor of particularly generous donors. Billionaire Gerald L. Chan’s $350 million gift renamed the Harvard School of Public Health, and Harvard named the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences after hedge fund magnate John A. Paulson, who pledged a record-setting $400 million to the school.

The campaign’s success has not gone without scrutiny. Last summer, when Harvard announced Paulson's donation, a chorus of critics denounced the gift as unnecessary and excessive for one of the world’s wealthiest schools.

But with about two years left in its campaign, Harvard is focusing attention on funding individual priorities that still need the money, Faust said in an interview earlier this month.

Financial aid in the College and graduate schools, while buoyed by a nine-figure gift from Kenneth C. Griffin ’89 two years ago, remains an area of particular emphasis, Faust said. She added that she will also focus on funding the new SEAS campus in Allston, although the SEAS campaign, with Paulson’s gift, has far surpassed its initial $450 million goal.

Faust said she will continue to push for gifts toward House renewal, a priority that has lagged behind other areas in the campaign, which support projects including the upcoming renovation of Winthrop House. Several of the University’s schools, including the Graduate School of Education and the Divinity School, are also short of their goals, Faust said in the interview earlier this month.

Harvard’s last capital campaign launched in 1994 under then-President Neil L. Rudenstine, while Faust was still teaching at the University of Pennsylvania. That campaign finished at $2.6 billion over the course of five years.

Faust became Harvard’s president in 2007, a transition, she said, that determined when the new capital campaign would begin. By the time Faust settled into her position, the country was reeling from the financial crisis of 2008—a troublesome time to launch a new campaign, she said. The University would wait five years from the initial stock market crash to publicly debut its new fundraising drive.

The world’s wealthiest university, Harvard is funded in part by the returns on its $37.6 billion endowment.

—Staff writer Andrew M. Duehren can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @aduehren.

—Staff writer Daphne C. Thompson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @daphnectho.


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