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Harvard Raises $9.6 Billion in Final Capital Campaign Tally, Smashing Its Own Fundraising Record

Harvard closed out its record-breaking capital campaign at $9.6 billion, a sum more than $3 billion greater than its original fundraising goal.
Harvard closed out its record-breaking capital campaign at $9.6 billion, a sum more than $3 billion greater than its original fundraising goal. By Thomas W. Franck
By Kristine E. Guillaume and Jamie D. Halper, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard just beat Harvard's own fundraising record — in a major way.

The University closed out its capital campaign at $9.6 billion, officials announced Thursday morning, meaning the school surpassed its original goal — already representing the highest amount ever raised by a single institute of higher education — by more than $3 billion.

The sum is more than one and a half times the amount Stanford University — the previous record-holder — raised in its last capital campaign.

Harvard’s campaign, which ended in June, raised $1.3 billion for financial aid alone across the University, according to Tamara E. Rogers ’74, vice president for alumni affairs and development. Fundraising totals for financial aid at individual schools and for other campaign priorities are not yet available.

Harvard launched its capital campaign in 2013 with a goal of $6.5 billion. The campaign was one of the hallmarks of the more than decade-long tenure of former University President Drew G. Faust. The University president functions as Harvard’s fundraiser-in-chief, and Faust courted donors around the world to bring in big-ticket gifts that sometimes totaled more than $400 million in one go.

The campaign concluded just as Faust stepped down from her post in June, but the University surpassed its $6.5 billion goal in April 2016. At that point, Harvard secured its status as the new record-holder for higher education fundraising. Stanford's previous record stood at $6.2 billion, which the California school raised as part of a capital campaign it wrapped up in 2012.

Rogers, who announced in January she will step down at the end of the calendar year, said in an interview Tuesday that she felt Harvard's campaign ended “very successfully."

University President Lawrence S. Bacow — who took over Harvard's top job from Faust in July — wrote in an official announcement that, as a result of the campaign, Harvard is “well-positioned” to “respond and adapt” to new challenges in higher education.

“It is equally important that we lead by example as we seek to make the world a better place through our teaching and scholarship,” Bacow said. “We are enormously grateful to those who have supported us in this effort.”

As of June 2017, the capital campaign had raised $8 billion. In April 2018, a dean of the University and multiple alumni confirmed to The Crimson that the total had increased to $9.1 billion.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences — which houses the College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences — raised $3.2 billion of the total sum, far surpassing its own $2.5 billion goal, Rogers said. Rogers said she did not yet have totals on hand for the rest of Harvard’s schools.

The campaign saw more than 633,000 gifts from more than 153,000 households in 173 countries since its launch in 2013. Through those gifts, donors funded 142 endowed professorships University-wide and contributed to research initiatives across Harvard’s campuses, including research focused on climate change and cancer.

Financial aid, current use giving, and House renewal constituted some of the school’s top priorities for fundraising in the campaign, Rogers said.

Harvard’s development officers also sought "current use" gifts — money that can be spent as soon as it comes in, as opposed to funds that are tied up in Harvard’s endowment and earmarked for specific purposes — in order to fund a variety of projects across the University, according to Rogers.

Harvard is in the process of building a new campus in Allston. Rogers noted that unforeseen needs arise all the time for which funding is not allocated in advance.

House renewal, a years-long project to rebuild a number of the College’s undergraduate Houses, also formed a focus of the fundraising, as FAS had been forced to take on debt and extend the construction timeline in order to complete the renovations.

The University’s capital campaign comes to a close as Harvard enters the first year endowment returns will be taxed under a sweeping tax overhaul Republicans passed in Dec. 2017.

In a February interview, Faust said the legislation would circumscribe the growth of the University's endowment, puting “constraints” on Harvard’s ability to fund financial aid, research, public programs, and other endeavors around campus.

“The growth in the endowment is what funds the programs,” Faust said.

Rogers said the endowment tax has sparked alarm among some donors, but that those concerns did not significantly slow the progress of the capital campaign.

“I haven’t heard categorically from donors that knowing the endowment is going to be taxed is deterring from endowment gifts, but one hears that episodically,” she said. “It’s very individual, but it has not — the campaign did so very well — it seems not to have impeded people, but I did hear of it from time to time.”

Rogers said it is impossible to immediately determine where funds raised during the campaign will go. She said Harvard’s “very decentralized” structure means that money can flow in a number of different directions.

“The schools all had goals and priorities, and so money was in most cases — many cases indeed — given to the schools and the deans have their priorities in consultation with their faculty about what was particularly important, what were the key needs,” Rogers said. “There’s not a single sort of person on a throne who makes the decisions.”

Correction: Sept. 20, 2018

A previous version of this story overstated the emphasis which Harvard placed on "current use" gifts during its capital campaign. It has been updated.

—Staff writer Kristine E. Guillaume can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @krisguillaume.

—Staff writer Jamie D. Halper can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @jamiedhalper.

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