Hopkins steps up goal

University plans to raise $3.2 billion by end of 2008

October 29, 2006|By Gadi Dechter | Gadi Dechter,Sun reporter

After zooming past its $2 billion fundraising target two years ahead of schedule, Johns Hopkins University is expanding its goal to $3.2 billion by the end of 2008, President William R. Brody told 700 major donors at a dinner last night.

The announcement comes amid a wave of multibillion-dollar university campaigns publicly launched in recent weeks - with Stanford, Columbia and Cornell universities shooting for $4 billion or more - but Hopkins officials said their campaign's expansion is motivated primarily by its research mission, not a desire to keep up with the Ivy League.

"It's been painted as an arms race, but we really aren't competing with each other," said the school's new fundraising head, Michael Eicher. "It's about the real needs in the world. It's driven by a vision of academic leadership."

Hopkins reached its original $2 billion goal in December, less than six years after launching the campaign in 2000 and two years ahead of schedule. With $2.3 billion in its campaign coffers now, the university is extending the drive by one year and hopes to raise an additional $900 million in the next 26 months.

The bulk of the money will fund research at the university and its medical centers, which have led the world in research and development spending for about 25 years, according to Hopkins. Officials said about $300 million of the total will go to student financial aid, with the undergraduate portion supporting needy students.

The campaign has paid for 61 new faculty chairs, new clinical and teaching facilities at Johns Hopkins' medical division, and the establishment of institutes devoted to cancer, malaria and heart research, according to university officials.

Plans for the additional money include construction of a new nursing school building in East Baltimore and an addition to the library on the college's Homewood campus.

Only the University of California, Los Angeles, has ever raised $3 billion in a single campaign - and UCLA's drive lasted 10 years, two more than Hopkins' new timeline. The $3.2 billion goal is the fourth-highest attempted by an institution of higher learning, according to data compiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Despite being in the philanthropic company of the world's richest universities, Brody painted Hopkins as urgently in need of cash because of its relatively small endowment compared with its moneyed peers.

Hopkins' $2.3 billion endowment is the 24th-largest in the country, but a fraction of Harvard's $25 billion and Stanford's $12 billion investment funds. "We have not been until recently a big player in philanthropy," Brody said. "The fact that we have great support is really one of our distinguishing features, despite the fact that we are rather poorly endowed."

Endowment returns pay for 3 percent of Hopkins' $3 billion annual operating budget, as compared with between 10 percent and 30 percent of expenses at some peer schools, Brody said. The school hopes to persuade donors to direct about a third of the new money toward increasing the investment fund.

Universities around the country are stepping up their fundraising drives, buoyed by a healthy economy and a surge of aging baby boomers with money to give away, according to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, an association of university fundraisers.

"There are a lot of predictions that we're going to see huge intergenerational transfers of wealth in the next decade or so," said Rae Goldsmith, the association's vice president of marketing.

Public universities, for decades almost entirely reliant on state and federal funds, are increasingly courting large amounts of private money these days. On Oct. 20, the University of Maryland, College Park, announced a $1 billion fundraising campaign, part of a $1.8 billion drive orchestrated by the 13-campus University System of Maryland.

Towson University will announce its campaign goals Thursday, President Robert L. Caret said.

Brody said he didn't think Hopkins' expanded campaign would detract from UM's bid to join the billion-dollar club.

"We're all very competitive, and certainly when it comes to lacrosse, there's no love lost between Hopkins and Maryland, but I actually think it's a good thing," Brody said. "The more the University of Maryland is out raising money, the more successful we'll all be."

gadi.dechter@baltsun.com

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