University announces public launch of ‘Honor the Future’ campaign, looks to raise $5 billion

The launch is "the first step in the transformation of the University into the leading public university in the country”

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According to Vice President for Advancement Mark Luellen, the University plans to welcome thousands of members of the University community to the events.

Khuyen Dinh | Cavalier Daily

The University will launch its “Honor the Future” capital campaign Oct. 12 and 13. The weekend will feature numerous events that are open to the public, including a public address by University President Jim Ryan, which will begin the campaign’s public phase, and a concert on the steps of the Rotunda from 19-time Grammy award winning artist Tony Bennett.

Mark Luelle, the University’s vice president for Advancement, stated that the financing campaign is one of the “most ambitious in the nation among public universities,” with a stated goal of $5 billion. 

“The University is planning for thousands of alumni, friends, faculty, staff, students and community members to attend the weekend’s festivities,” Luellen said. 

The public phase of the campaign will extend until the spring of 2025, during which time the University will solicit a large number of donations in smaller amounts — as opposed to the “quiet phase” of a capital campaign, in which a few donors give larger gifts leading up to the public launch.

According to the launch weekend’s event page, the mission of the campaign is to launch the University to the status of “a leading public university.” 

This fall, the University was ranked as the fourth-best public university in the nation, according to the 2020 list by U.S. News and World Report. Last year, the University was ranked third and had been ranked in the top three for 28 consecutive years.

Derrick Wang, a fourth-year College student and the student member of the Board of Visitors, explained that this event will allow donors to choose what parts of Ryan’s “Good and Great” 10-year strategic plan will be funded. 

“It really depends on exactly what people are interested in supporting,” Wang said. “There's a lot of different initiatives that could be supported, for example, scholarships, financial aid and endowed professorships.”

Recently, a $7 million donation was made by alumni Robert and Molly Hardie towards the Athletics Master Plan and the new Student Health facility construction project underway on Brandon Avenue. In January, Ryan announced plans to establish the School of Data Science with a $120 million donation from Jaffray Woodriff of The Quantitative Foundation.

The establishment of the School of Data Science and construction of the Student Health Center are initiatives of the strategic plan initiatives that have already been implemented, along with Ryan’s announcement this past March that the University will begin paying a $15 per hour living wage to benefits eligible employees. The strategic plan states that its next steps will be funded by a combination of the capital campaign’s philanthropy, general operating funds and the University’s Strategic Investment Fund.

Luellen further described many of the goals of the fundraising campaign, such as faculty recruitment and scholarship opportunities for students.

“[The] philanthropy will benefit generations of students, opening doors of access through scholarships, creating new opportunities for learning on Grounds and around the world, helping us recruit and retain top faculty through endowed professorships, and enriching the student experience with additional services and world-class facilities, among other university priorities,” Luellen said.

As for the planned weekend events, all of them are being privately funded.

“The launch of the Honor the Future campaign is a broad effort involving all of the schools and many of the University-Associated Organizations from across the University, including the College Foundation, the Alumni Association, the Darden Foundation, among others,” Luellen said. 

“No tuition money or state dollars are being used in support of the Honor the Future campaign launch events,” Luellen said. 

The event will feature numerous public panels Oct. 12, including President Ryan’s campaign address. The address is followed by a panel moderated by Liz Magill, executive vice president and provost, and features other “distinguished alumni” including former NFL player Chris Long and Cheryl Mills, the former deputy White House Counsel for President Bill Clinton and Counselor and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Throughout the day there will also be academic panels led by faculty on topics such as brain science and the University’s autism research and treatment, the future of global democracy and the application of data in improving the future of financial markets.

The weekend events will conclude with a community-wide brunch on the South Lawn.

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