URI’s Making A Difference campaign hits $100 million mark, 15 months ahead of schedule

With more than a year remaining in the campaign, officials plan to “stay the course”

KINGSTON, R.I. — October 17, 2009 – University of Rhode Island President David M. Dooley announced tonight that the University’s Making a Difference capital campaign has achieved its $100 million goal, a full 15 months ahead of schedule. The campaign is scheduled to officially close December 31, 2010.

“Reaching the $100 million mark for the University’s campaign is remarkable progress, and the willingness of so many of our alumni and friends to support the University is inspiring,” said URI President David M. Dooley. “We have a strong foundation of excellence at URI, but it has only been recently that a lot of the critical pieces have come together for us to move aggressively toward even higher levels of distinction and achievement. We need to continue our course to reach the heights that the University is capable of achieving. Together, we can make amazing things happen.”

“This is a major milestone for the University,” said Robert Beagle, vice president for University Advancement, whose division launched and led the Leadership Gift Phase of the campaign generating more than half of the total goal. “Funds raised throughout this campaign are truly making a critical difference to the vitality of the University. We are enormously grateful. Over the years, many new prospects and friends were developed, and it is rewarding to see them step up to participate in this campaign.”

So far nearly 34,000 alumni and friends have made donations to the University during this campaign, representing participation from about one-third of its alumni base. Almost 10,000 of those donors were first-time contributors.

Thomas Ryan, ’75 URI alumnus, chairman, president and CEO of CVS Caremark and chair of URI’s Making a Difference campaign, said, “The achievement of this very impressive fundraising goal is a true testament to the outstanding level of engagement across URI’s alumni, fundraising committee and Foundation staff. Especially given these difficult economic times, I want to thank everyone who has participated in this campaign to date and to congratulate the staff for truly ‘making a difference’ in the lives of all of us in the URI community.”

“What is particularly gratifying is the number of first-time donors to this campaign,” said Glen R. Kerkian, president of the URI Foundation, which administers all campaign, fundraising and endowment management activities on behalf of the University. “More than 31 percent of our gifts are from new donors. It is also both amazing and humbling that giving to URI in general was up 11 percent in the last academic year, while giving to education declined by 5.5 percent nationally. While it is fitting to pause and acknowledge this historic gift achievement and our generous donors, our core campaign mission continues and with it the need to be resolute in finding additional charitable resources for the University.”

The campaign was launched in July 2004 with the purpose of securing the resources necessary to increase the University’s competitiveness. Efforts have focused on enhancing the university’s ability to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, increasing the level of available undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, funding cutting-edge academic and research initiatives and improving the overall academic experience at all four of URI’s campuses.

The public gift phase of the campaign began October 2007, following an official announcement at the University’s annual Distinguished Achievement Awards (DAA) ceremony. Tonight’s announcement by President Dooley comes nearly two years to the date, during this year’s Distinguished Achievement Award’s ceremony, held at the Providence Westin.

Since the campaign began, 25.8 percent or almost $26 million in gifts and pledges have been allocated to endowments. Almost one-quarter of the University’s nearly 1,000 individual endowment funds were established during the campaign. Cutting across all disciplines and with a wide variety of purposes (student scholarships chief among them), this segment of donations has had a particularly significant impact on the campus community.

Nearly 9 percent of campaign dollars raised have been earmarked to athletics, and another 7 percent has been designated for the annual fund (Fund for URI). Approximately $8.5 million has been donated to help support new building construction which is funded, primarily, through taxpayer approved bonds. This private support enhanced two buildings in the past year: the Graduate School of Oceanography’s Undersea Space and Exploration Center and the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences building. Funds have also been raised and earmarked for other construction projects, including the new College of Pharmacy building.

Remaining gifts have been received in the area of non-endowment-related gifts, or outright gifts; planned gifts (bequests, etc); and, research awards, which provide support for a wide variety of programs and initiatives. Kerkian made note of several gift commitments received just this week, which helped put the campaign over the top, including a $500,000 planned gift from David Lea, Class of ’59, of Barrington; a $100,000 gift from Dr. Mostafa M. Omar, of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, who received a PhD from URI in 1982; and, a $125,000 corporate gift from National Grid.

For more information on the campaign, please visit www.urifoundation.org.