The Board of Visitors’ Advancement Committee discussed growth in philanthropic fundraising and the success of the Honor the Future campaign during the Friday meeting. The Board also highlighted progress in fundraising for student scholarships and faculty endowments under Bicentennial funds.
The Honor the Future campaign — launched in 2019 to raise funds to support the University's core pillars of education, democracy and research — has a goal of raising $5 billion by June 2025. Overall, the campaign is now at $4.77 billion — over 95 percent of the total goal.
Vice President for Advancement Mark Luellen said he anticipates this goal may be reached within this fiscal year, but fundraising will continue into 2025 regardless.
“There are a lot of milestones on Grounds, both in the president’s  strategic plan and also in the schools and units that we want to make sure we achieve, so we are very focused on continuing the philanthropic growth at the University until the very end of the campaign,” Luellen said.
Luellen also presented the fundraising, which showed the goal of $500 million in fiscal year 2023 was surpassed by $50 million, or ten percent.
Fiscal year 2024, which started on July 1, has already seen donations which total $115 million in philanthropic commitments. Though the program is behind where it was last year — which was the highest first quarter in the University’s history — the Committee is in the process of signing paperwork for $25 million in verbal commitments. One commitment from Thursday night will be a one-time $5 million gift to help recruit first-generation college students to the University.
Luellen said this is the sixth consecutive year that the University has crossed $500 million in this campaign, and the fifth consecutive year that it has crossed $300 million in philanthropic cash flow. Prior to this campaign, Luellen said, the University had only crossed $300 million in cash in one year, and up until 2018, it had never crossed $500 million in commitments.
“Philanthropic cash flow is essentially cash receipts,” Luellen said. “We’re excited and thrilled and very humbled by the generosity of so many.”
In addition to providing updates on fundraising, Luellen said there was a decrease in vacancy rates of staff and labor. Throughout 2022, the University has struggled to retain faculty in a “war on talent” due to skill competition, lingering COVID-19 effects and limited state funding.
Luellen said the committee sends out a climate survey annually to staff, and this year 85 percent of faculty agreed that their professional goals were being met — up from 71 percent three years ago.
“At the high point, our vacancy rates were about 30 percent,” Luellen said. “We’re now in the nine to 10 percent rate across Grounds in vacancy which is our kind of standard state pre-pandemic. We’ve also not just filled the positions but really looked at job satisfaction.”
The Bicentennial Scholars fund was launched in 2017 and has created 575 different scholarship endowments for students of all backgrounds across Grounds. So far, the University has raised $607 million of its $750 million campaign goal for the fund.
The related Bicentennial Professors fund has raised over $500 million to support the creation of 25 yearly professorships and 132 endowed faculty chairs. University President Jim Ryan said the money raised toward faculty and professor endowments would take away a financial reliance on student tuition.
“I think 10 years from now, when people are looking at the new faculty who have been brought in or faculty who have been retained because they’ve been given one of these chairs, then they’ll realize what an impact the campaign has had,” Ryan said.
Ryan concluded the meeting by thanking Ramon W. Breeden, Jr., a guest donor and McIntire School of Commerce alum, for his $50-million contribution to the University. Half of Breeden’s donation went toward the McIntire school’s Shumway-Cobb expansion project — an extensive construction plan on the southeast corner of the Lawn. The other $25 million went toward the Virginia Athletics Master Plan and the Athletics Complex.
“When I graduated from McIntire, it gave me the confidence to do anything I wanted to do,” Breeden said. “I felt like I always owed McIntire something substantial. This was my opportunity to go through with it.”
The Board also passed a motion to approve appointments of new and existing representatives to the various governing boards of University affiliated organizations. Assigned members provide Board representation for organizations such as the Alumni Association, McIntire School of Commerce and the University of Virginia Investment Management Company.
The Advancement Committee will convene again during the December meetings of the Board.