Graphic by Daniel Gourvitch/The Hoya

Georgetown University has reached its $1 billion capital campaign goal, the largest fundraising effort in its history, the university announced Friday. The successful completion of the Third Century Campaign makes Georgetown one of only 20 colleges and universities able to achieve the ambitious $1 billion mark.

The university had set June 30 as the date it hoped to finish the campaign, but an economic recession left the campaign $70 million short of its goal. Even though the university did not meet the June deadline, instead finishing on Nov. 30, contributions during the fiscal year totaled $146 million, the most money the university has ever raised in a single year.

“Despite a national economic downturn, Georgetown stayed the course,” University President John J. DeGioia said. “We met the challenge with renewed purpose, and recently concluded this past academic year as the most successful fundraising year in university history.”

Georgetown had originally set a $500 million goal in 1995 but after collecting $335 million during the campaign’s “quiet phase,” then-President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., set a $750 million goal when he publicly announced the campaign in 1998. In 2000, O’Donovan pushed the goal to $1 billion.

“Our initial faculty strategic planning showed more than $1 billion in opportunities,” Michael Goodwin, vice president for alumni and university relations, said of the decision to extend the campaign to $1 billion.

Over 105,000 individuals contributed to the Third Century Campaign.

“This is an historic achievement for Georgetown,” DeGioia said. “The results of this campaign are already making a difference throughout the university.”

In addition to the recent completion of the $188 million Southwest Quadrangle project, the university plans to begin construction on a $30.8 million performing arts center with plans also in the works for a $45 million graduate business center, a $22.5 million multi-sport athletic facility, a $15 million boathouse and a $38 million science center.

The Law Center will finish construction next summer on the Eric E. Hotung International Law Center Building and a sport and fitness center, totaling $60.7 million, according to Wallace Mlyniec, associate dean of the Law Center and chair of the Campus Completion Committee.

The campaign has also seen 62 new endowments of faculty chairs and professorships, doubling the total endowed faculty positions, and the creation of 219 student scholarships. Twelve endowed biomedical research grants were also funded as a result of the campaign.

Despite the historic fundraising accomplishment, several looming financial problems face the university, including rising debt. In 1999 and in May 2003, Moody’s Investor Service downgraded the university’s credit rating. The service placed the university on a “watchlist” on Jan. 8 for another potential downgrade due to a growing budget deficit.

With approximately $650 million in outstanding debt, Georgetown remains close to its debt capacity of $700 million. As a result, the university’s wish list of capital projects require that each one have most of the funds raised before construction begins, instead of borrowing the entire sum.

On the Southwest Quadrangle project, the university raised $50 million of the $188 million and on the Law Center projects, the university has raised $20 million of the $60.7 million. With the remainder of the funds borrowed, these projects have contributed to the large debt Georgetown has incurred.

The university’s endowment also failed to reach its benchmark in the last fiscal year, but has increased from $610 million to $650 million between July and October.

“Our work together to complete the Third Century Campaign does not mean that we have realized all of our aspirations or met all of our challenges,” he said. “But the achievements of the campaign surround and sustain us.”

During the campaign, DeGioia said that the university has doubled alumni giving to the Annual Fund, which reached $20.7 million in the past fiscal year.

DeGioia lauded the efforts of the university community, thanking them for their help in reaching the fundraising goal.

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