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Capital Campaign concludes on high note

Five years and about $1.4 billion after its launch, the University's Capital Campaign finally came to a close at the end of December.

Although the campaign has ended, Vice President for Development Robert D. Sweeney said the University will continue its rigorous fundraising.

"This is just the beginning of intensive philanthropy supporting at the University," he said. "Our hope is that we will be able to double our giving again by the year 2005."

Several other smaller, but significant, campaigns at the University also will continue at a rapid pace, University President John T. Casteen III said.

"Right now what we're doing is planning for the arts campaign, College [of Arts & Sciences] campaign and ... [basketball] arena campaign," Casteen said.

He said exact figures for the completed campaign have yet to be determined. University officials are estimating a total of $1.4 billion.

There have been many cases in which the actual donations given to the University exceed the amounts pledged, Casteen said.

University officials will recalculate totals for the next three to five years in order to determine a more accurate grand total.

The historic campaign began in October 1995 to provide the University with greater financial self-sufficiency from the Commonwealth, as well as achieving several more specific goals.

Some of these goals include bolstering support for students, attracting and retaining gifted professors and scholars and harnessing new advances in information technology.

The University also intended to meet the emerging health care needs of the region, state and nation; advance the study and performance of the arts; improve sports and recreation facilities and preserve the University's architectural legacy.

Although the University initially set the campaign's goal at $500 million, the donations rolled in at a more rapid pace than expected and the goal eventually swelled to $1 billion in 1998.

"It was beyond our own imagination at the start of the campaign and ended up being one of the significant fundraising successes in the history of American higher education," Sweeney said. "We were one of a dozen universities that has ever achieved a $1 billion goal."

Sweeney said the University had a very successful campaign, especially considering "our competitors such as Michigan, Berkeley and UCLA are all between two and three times larger than the University."

Although the Capital Campaign has ended, Casteen plans some traveling throughout the country to raise funds.

"People want me to do the same kind of front work I always do," he said. "I need to get back into areas - cities - where we did not do well in the Capital Campaign [because] we have some unfinished business."

There will be no cutbacks in staff specifically related to the completion of the campaign, and more employees may even be hired, Sweeney said.