This September, the University will publicly announce the start of the largest capital campaign in Duke’s history.
The campaign will conclude in Fall 2017 and will focus on the University’s core strategic values, particularly supporting and expanding the faculty, growing the University’s financial aid resources and developing innovative academic programming, President Richard Brodhead said.
The goal for the campaign has not been officially set, though fundraising is expected to exceed the $2.3 billion raised by the Campaign for Duke—the University’s last capital campaign, which concluded in 2003, said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. The campaign will officially launch the weekend of Sept. 28 at which time the Board of Trustees will approve the fundraising goal, Brodhead said.
Under this campaign, fundraising will span all of Duke’s undergraduate, graduate and professional schools, corresponding programs, capital projects and initiatives as well as the Duke University Health System.
“Since this will be a comprehensive campaign that will embrace many parts of the University, there will be a number of specific programs and themes that will be announced,” said Board Chair Richard Wagoner, Trinity ’75. “All are based around the goal of moving Duke forward and securing our position as one of the top universities in the world.”
Since July 2010, the campaign has been in a silent phase, during which University leaders gauge donor sentiment and capacity, shape the campaign’s vision and secure preliminary fundraising.
Two years is the customary duration for a capital campaign’s silent or planning period, said Executive Vice President Tallman Trask. A large part of the silent phase is securing gifts that will make the final goal of the campaign achievable. Universities typically secure between 33 and 40 percent of the overall fundraising goal during this period.
“We have seen great success in the silent phase, and we suspect it will translate into an appropriately ambitious goal,” Schoenfeld said.
A number of major gifts have been given to the University during the campaign’s silent phase including an $80 million gift from the Charlotte-based Duke Endowment for West Union Building and campus renovations, $50 million from Bruce Karsh, Trinity ’77, and his wife Martha Karsh for need-based financial aid and a total of $28.6 million in gifts from David Rubenstein, Trinity ’70 and vice chair of the Board. These, among other major gifts, will count toward the campaign’s overall goal.
The University’s last capital campaign—the Campaign for Duke—spanned from 1996 to 2003 and raised $2.36 billion, surpassing its original goal of $1.5 billion. The Campaign for Duke funded the Nasher Museum of Art and 132 new endowed faculty positions, among other initiatives.
Time for another ‘jolt’
In addition to preliminary fundraising, University leaders spent the last two years testing donors’ enthusiasm for certain focuses of the campaign. Trustees and administrators met with faculty members and deans from across the University.
A number of current and former Trustees, along with numerous global volunteers, have been involved in the planning process, Wagoner said. The response from potential donors has been widely positive.
“Philanthropy has historically been the jolt that has propelled Duke into ever higher orbit,” Brodhead said. “Our donors love Duke. They realize Duke has a great future ahead of it, and they want to invest in that future.”
Feedback from both potential donors and University faculty members was essential in carving themes for the campaign with a particular enthusiasm for innovation in education, Brodhead added.
“One outside advisor said [that] in 1998, a Duke campaign was about establishing us securely in the top company of universities,” Brodhead recalled. “Now a campaign can ask, ‘What are the distinctive bets Duke wants to make about the future of education, what are the crucial areas where Duke can be a real leader?’”
The University decided to pursue a capital campaign due to its emerging needs and a subsequent demand for more resources. As Duke strives to globalize, become more dynamic in its academic offerings, support interdisciplinarity and strengthen its faculty, more resources are needed, Provost Peter Lange said.
“There’s always a judgment call,” Lange said. “A lot of what you do in that first year is see if you can really identify and develop a set of compelling ideas, themes and priorities that will appeal to our supporters.”
In addition to strategic goals, capital projects are another priority of the campaign, particularly in regard to improving residential life, Lange added.
In comparison with the Campaign for Duke, he noted, the upcoming campaign is much more thematically driven, built less on the individual schools and more on the interaction between them.
A goal amid uncertainty
The announcement of the campaign’s goal will follow a thorough assessment of fundraising to date as well as potential support and other contributing factors, Wagoner said.
Throughout the campaign’s planning and its silent phase, there was a long discussion of the University’s priorities, what the University needs and whether it can obtain the resources, Trask said, noting that even with a turbulent economy there has not been a drop off in donor interest.
“We first started planning for the campaign around the downturn when we knew there was a lot of uncertainty,” Brodhead said. “Still, we heard one message from supporters: Make sure to be ambitious about it.”
The uncertainty in the economy is the primary challenge the upcoming campaign will face, said Steve Nowicki, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education. Nowicki spent a significant amount of time with Brodhead and other administrators speaking to supporters in the last two years.
The presence of economic uncertainty means that the University has to be even more dynamic with what it presents to donors, Lange said.
“It’s a long campaign,” he said. “You never know with the economic environment, and you don’t want to overpromise but yet you want to set a high level of expectation. It’s a balancing act.”
Luckily, this is not the current University leadership’s first major fundraising initiative. In 2005, Brodhead launched the Duke Financial Aid Initiative, which raised $308.5 million. From that experience, Brodhead said he gained an understanding of Duke’s supporters as well as sentiments that should carry over to the upcoming capital campaign.
“People are much less interested in abstractions about education than they are in the actual experience,” he said. “During that campaign, donors realized that you could make a difference in the life of a real person.”
Progress and innovation
Bolstering resources for need-based financial aid, growing a strong faculty and building Duke’s programmatic distinctiveness are the three critical pillars of the upcoming campaign, administrators said.
There will also be a significant focus on undergraduate education inside and outside of the classroom, Nowicki said. DukeEngage, undergraduate research and support for nonacademic internship opportunities are some areas for which the campaign will solicit further support.
“One thing that really resonates in general are the many ways that Duke connects its education to the real world,” he said. “Another thing I talk about that really resonates with alums and parents and other supporters of Duke is the way we’re stretching what classroom learning means.”
Nowicki cited the new cluster-based DukeImmerse program and the Humanities Lab as two examples of innovative learning models.
Continued support for faculty and campus facilities is another priority, Nowicki said, noting that Duke, compared to its peers, has less endowed support for faculty positions.
Lange similarly noted the importance of growing the faculty and noted donors’ positive response to the interdisciplinary focuses of a campaign that is rooted in the University’s overall values.
Capital projects to enhance the student experience, such as funding for the renovations to the Bryan Center, Crowell and Craven quadrangles and East Campus residence halls, are also on the University’s agenda, Nowicki said.
“One thing that most Duke supporters love most about Duke is our students,” he said. “We attract great students, and it’s our students that resonate best with those whom we’ll be asking to support Duke in the upcoming campaign.”