Donor support enhances the university’s efforts to address 21st century challenges
University of Florida alumni and friends invested $414 million in their university during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, marking the third consecutive time private giving has surpassed $400 million. Those gifts will enable the university to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges, prepare a professional workforce to thrive, and continue its ambitious drive to be ranked amongst the nation’s top 5 public universities.
This year’s contributions sustain an ambitious pace to reach a $3 billion fundraising goal for the university’s Go Greater campaign. Now at the midpoint of the eight-year campaign, Gators have given $1.66 billion during the first four years. Go Greater is the fourth campaign in UF’s history and is one of the largest ever in higher education. Fiscal years are July 1-June 30.
Private giving to UF supports a wide range of programs and projects. Among the initiatives enhanced this year through the generosity of donors are a campus center to address rapid changes to the natural environment, a sea turtle hospital in St. Augustine, scholarships for first-generation students, and professorships to recruit and retain the most talented people in academia.
“Once again, Gators have answered the call to move our university forward and upward so we can improve the lives of people through discovery, outreach and knowledge sharing,” UF President Kent Fuchs said. “This is an extraordinary moment in UF’s history, and because Gators who so strongly believe in this university are embracing that moment, we are on the threshold of once-unimaginable worldwide influence and impact.”
“Increased private support during the past decade corresponds with UF’s climb in national rankings. Now ninth on the U.S. News and World Report’s list of best public research universities, UF’s aspiration is to be among the top 5,” Fuchs said.
That aspiration and the university’s potential to be an even more powerful global resource inspired 73,929 alumni and friends to make gifts in 2017-18. Some notable investments are:
- The cornerstone gift from alumni Jon and Beverly Thompson of Fort Myers to promote research-based information and responses to environmental issues such as rising oceans, eroding coastlines, saltwater intrusion into freshwater supplies, “sunny day” flooding in Miami and other seaside cities, disappearing wetlands and lingering droughts.
- The creation of a sea turtle hospital at UF’s Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience in St. Augustine — made possible with a gift from Ponte Vedra Beach alumni Nancy and Gary Condron — to care for and protect the endangered animals.
- Fort Lauderdale alumnus Alex Moreno’s professorship in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering to develop new and more-efficient energies; along with Dallas businessman Walden Rhines’ newly established fund to elevate work in the materials science and engineering department.
- Best-selling novelist James Patterson’s Literacy Challenge in the College of Education to improve reading proficiency for students in Patterson’s hometown of Palm Beach County and in other Florida schools.
- A fellowship in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from alumna Trish Ring of Memphis to make it easier for doctoral students in psychology to focus on their research and dissertations.
A notable fundraising milestone this year is that for the first time UF exceeded $300 million in the Council for Aid to Education’s annual Voluntary Support of Education survey, which measures annual cash or cash-equivalent contributions to a university. UF’s fundraising total of $339.7 million in this benchmark survey puts UF in the company of the nation’s most proficient universities in terms of fundraising.
“When you think about it, there’s really nothing Gators can’t do when we set our minds to it and work together,” said Go Greater Campaign Co-Chair Anita Zucker. “That’s the reason the University of Florida will be a top 5 university, the reason we will achieve our $3 billion Go Greater campaign goal and the reason this university will be looked to more than ever as a problem-solver and idea-generator.”
“Together, we’re truly unstoppable,” she said, “and this year’s giving proves it once again. Any investment in education is a contribution to the betterment of the world.”