University of Chicago officials announced plans Thursday to raise $4.5 billion before the end of the decade and signaled that the college’s president will remain on campus at least that long.
The campaign, which follows announcements of high-dollar fundraising efforts earlier this year by Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame, is the most ambitious in the South Side campus’ history and seeks more money than any previous campaign in the Chicago area.
Though U of C leaders weren’t made available for interviews Thursday, the chairman of the board of trustees said in a news release that President Robert Zimmer had agreed to serve at least through the end of this decade. The campaign is expected to end in 2019, the announcement said.
The release said more than $2 billion of the desired $4.5 billion has already been raised in a “quiet phase“ of the campaign. University spokesman Steve Kloehn said the quiet period began in early 2012, but he declined to discuss the fundraising in detail. The public phase of the effort will start in late October.
Some of the money raised in the campaign will support faculty retention, scholarships and specific programs in molecular engineering and marine biology, the release said. Other funds will be put toward a new residence hall, investment in the Hyde Park area and other projects.
The $4.5 billion goal exceeds the $3.75 billion target that Northwestern announced in March for its campaign. At the time, Northwestern’s effort was considered the most ambitious in the history of the Chicago area. Notre Dame announced plans in January to raise $400 million to add classroom space and develop the area around its football stadium.
This University of Chicago campaign aims for more than double the $2 billion sought in its most recent campaign, which ended in 2008 and surpassed its goal by raising $2.38 billion. The new effort, titled “The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact,” is the fifth major fundraising plan in university history.
In Thursday’s announcement, trustees and administrators praised the campaign and showered praise on the university, one of the country’s most selective.
Andrew Alper, chairman of the board of trustees, said in the release that “a key factor in the board’s unanimous vote to launch a campaign was President Zimmer’s intention to serve at least through the end of the decade.” Alper said the college “is enjoying ever greater global eminence” under Zimmer’s leadership.
Zimmer, a former U of C professor who became president in 2006, was quoted later in the announcement but did not mention his future plans.
“We are stewards of a university that has accomplished extraordinary things in a little more than a century,” Zimmer said in the press release.
“With many new initiatives underway or in the planning stages, in every part of the university, our campaign priorities express and support the ambition of our academic community.”