When Georgetown University announced that it would expand the Third Century Campaign’s goal to $1 billion nearly three years ago, June 30, 2003 was set as the date that the eight-year long capital campaign would come to a close.

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The effects of the national economic downturn, exacerbated by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the dot-com bust, slowed down the campaign, and by June 30, the university had nearly $70 million. The campaign, which now stands at $970 million, plans to reach the goal by the end of the academic year, Julie Green Bataille, assistant vice president for communications, said.

Georgetown does not stand alone as the only university struggling to meet its campaign deadline.

“What we really saw during those two years was what many people across the country saw after Sept. 11 and the downturn in the economy,” Bataille said. “This was common in most places.”

Many universities looked to capitalize on the bullish economy of the late 1990s, launching campaigns that set June 30 as the final date. Rice University in Houston stood nearly $60 million short of its $500 million campaign and the University of Kentucky was $25 million short of its $600 million goal by the end of the fiscal year.

Most capital campaigns spend the first few years ensuring that about one-third of the total sum has already been collected before they publicly roll out their campaigns. Georgetown originally settled on a $500 million goal in 1995 but after collecting $335 million before the campaign had been announced, the goal was raised to $750 million when then-University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., publicly announced the campaign during “Kickoff Weekend” in Oct. 1998. O’Donovan extended the campaign by two years and $250 million dollars in September 2000.

“As we were able to raise $500 million and then $750 million, we realized that it wasn’t out of reach financially for us to go for $1 billion,” Bataille said.

Bataille said that the university based the goal on the needs identified in order for Georgetown to ensure academic excellence – maintaining Georgetown’s “world-class” faculty while attracting top-caliber students – and the ability to construct the facilities necessary to accommodate students and faculty.

In addition to the Southwest Quadrangle, which carried a $188 million price tag, the university plans to begin construction on a $30.8 million performing arts center, a $38 million science center and a $45 million graduate business center.

“We’ve raised quite a bit of money for new projects,” University President John J. DeGioia said. “We raised $50 million for the construction of the Southwest Quad, the most ever raised for a capital project.”

DeGioia emphasized the importance of each project, stating that the university had carefully calculated which projects were absolutely necessary for the future of the university.

“We’re very careful in the projects that we’re taking on, in that we’ll have raised virtually all the money for the project before we begin construction,” he said. “It is crucially important for the academic development of the campus.”

Despite the inability of Georgetown to meet the planned conclusion date for the campaign, the university raised $146 million in the past fiscal year, the most money it has ever raised in a single year.

“Our continued success and the increased amount raised last year can be attributed to the annual fund contributions,” Bataille said, noting that alumni participation in the annual fund had also reached an all-time high, increasing from 30 to 35 percent.

“We’ve been able to increase our numbers also because we’re nearing the end of the campaign and there’s momentum there where people want to contribute as we go down the home stretch to meet our deadline,” she said.

Bataille said the ability of the university to set fundraising records during an economic downturn was an indication of the generosity of Georgetown alumni.

“Given all of this, we’re excited about the future,” she said.

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