Big capital campaigns and an increase in million-dollar donors pushed the University of Nebraska Foundation to a record $236.7 million in private giving in the 2013 fiscal year.
It's a 37 percent increase over the gift record of $172.1 million set in 2011, according to the foundation. For the 2013 fiscal year, 38 contributors gave $1 million or more; there were 24 donors of that level in the previous record-setting year.
Driving some of the growth were campaigns to build new facilities at each of the university's four campuses: the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the NU Medical Center, the Biomechanics Research Building at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the veterinary research lab and college of business building at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a health science building at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Most were part of the Healthier Nebraska Initiative, a public-private partnership to expand health services throughout the university system. The $71 million in matching public money included $50 million for the medical center's cancer research center, $15 million for a nursing and allied health professions college in Kearney and the first $6 million payment on financing bonds for a new veterinary research laboratory in Lincoln.
Those public dollars aren't included in the foundation's fundraising totals.
NU Foundation President Brian Hastings credited projects that resonate with the donor community, long-time leaders and a strong volunteer force out working to drive donations.
“I couldn't emphasize enough the value of the university leadership that we have in place,” Hastings said.
NU President J.B. Milliken said in a statement that the support of the Nebraska Legislature has helped to gain funding for several major initiatives.
“The foundation's tremendous success in the past year will help us advance our work in areas like cancer research, early childhood development, agriculture and building Nebraska's workforce,” Milliken said.
Harold Maurer, UNMC chancellor, said the cancer center project now under construction has been a catalyst for the campus on the whole, in both fundraising and excitement for what's to come.
“The community members are real participants, and they are proud of it,” Maurer said. ”That makes it really a communitywide project.”
The state and private foundation funds for the health and sciences building will be huge for UNK, where leaders hope to have students in the building by fall 2015. Construction has not yet begun, but when they reach their $4 million fundraising goal, seven different health degrees, including occupational therapy and physician assistant programs, will be offered there by UNMC, said Pete Kotsiopulos, vice president for development with the NU Foundation.
“Will it be huge for Kearney and Buffalo County? Yes,” Kotsiopulos said. “But it'll be a game-changer for greater Nebraska because of what they're proposing to put in this building.”
About $94 million of the $174.7 million the foundation gave to the university was designated for construction and renovation projects, according to the foundation.
Student scholarships were earmarked in $21 million of the donations, and $45 million was for the direct support of academic programs.
The foundation's total assets are now about $1.9 billion, the foundation said.