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Campaign planners salute local donors

The leaders of the University's Capital Campaign gathered with members of the University and Charlottesville community yesterday to acknowledge and support the Campaign's local donors.

The event, which was held at the residence of C. Wilson McNeely III, former Board of Visitors member and local businessman, was a reception for over 500 people involved in raising money for the Campaign.

So far the Campaign has raised $957 million along its way to reaching its goal of $1 billion by the end of 2000.

"Now the Campaign comes back to Jefferson's home," Campaign Co-Chairman Ed Mitchell said.

William Sublette, University director of development communications, said although about 8 percent of the University's alumni live in Charlottesville and its surrounding areas, that group has given nearly 17 percent of total contributions.

University President John T. Casteen III addressed the crowd.

Twenty-five donors in the Charlottesville area have given over $1 million each to the cause, Casteen said.

"Only the city of New York rivals Charlottesville as the nation's most generous region," he said.

The Campaign has helped the University become less dependent on state funds, as more than 25 percent of the University's funds are from non-state contributions, he added.

"We could use the successes of the Campaign as a kind of springboard to elevate the University," Casteen said.

Campaign Co-Chairman Thomas A. Saunders also praised the Campaign's accomplishments.

When individuals donate money to the Campaign, they know they are investing in "an institution that is critical to the future of the Commonwealth," Saunders said.

But the University needs to remain cautious of the gains other universities have made recently - the fundraising efforts will not cease when the $1 billion goal is reached, he said.

He cited the University of California-Berkeley's ranking as the nation's top public educational institution in U.S. News & World Report earlier this year as an example that other institutions also are working hard.

"No one is standing still," he added.

Virginia State Sen. Emily Couric, D-Charlottesville, applauded the event and said it is necessary to recognize donors from Charlottesville.

"Sometimes we don't really fully appreciate what's in our own backyard," Couric said.