The independent news organization of Duke University

Duke Forward: Same goal, different spin

Following the Great Recession, the University's Duke Forward capital campaign has taken on a new life from any initiative that has come before.
Following the Great Recession, the University's Duke Forward capital campaign has taken on a new life from any initiative that has come before.

Following the 2008 economic downturn, Duke was tasked with the challenge of starting its most ambitious capital campaign, utilizing a strategic plan from a different economic time.

In September 2012, Duke announced the start of Duke Forward, its second and largest capital campaign to date. As part of the campaign, the University aims to raise $3.25 billion by June 30, 2017.

Duke Forward sets aside different goals for each of Duke's 10 schools, athletics, the libraries and "University-wide priorities." Duke Forward also has fundraising goals for three campaign themes: boundaries not included, blazing new paths and fueling uncontainable ideas.

The University's first capital campaign—Campaign for Duke—concluded in 2003 after raising $2.3 billion. When the campaign launched in October 1998, the University set a goal of $1.5 billion, which was raised to $2 billion in November 2000.

Duke Forward, however, differs from Campaign for Duke in both number as well as scale. Whereas Campaign for Duke was more specific in nature—in that it largely sought to raise money for each of Duke's schools—Duke Forward is more thematic.

Former Provost Peter Lange, professor of political science, said the thematic nature of Duke Forward is in line with the University's campaign goals.

"The first [reason] is that [President Richard Brodhead] and I and [Executive Vice President Dr. Tallman] Trask always agreed we didn’t build buildings to build buildings—we built buildings to enable the scholarly goals of the University," he said. "The second thing is it’s a pretty fast changing world—it's very hard to identify hard targets."

He also added that it is important to structure a campaign in a way that both accommodates the interests of donors and of the University. Having thematic goals helps accomplish this goal.

When it comes to numbers, Duke Forward is the University's most ambitious campaign yet, though many of Duke's 10 schools set "conservative goals" due to the 2008 economic downturn, said Bob Shepard, executive director of development.

"We are not going to raise the overall goal for the campaign," Shepard said. "We want to support schools to work at underfunded priorities."

In September, the University will raise campaign goals for schools that have met their goals ahead of schedule. Shepard said the Divinity School, Nicholas School of the Environment and Duke libraries were the first to cross their set campaign goals.

By the numbers

So far, Duke has raised $2.5 billion overall. In Fiscal Year 2014, which lasted from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, Duke raised $290.1 million in total cash and $250.4 million in new commitments, which qualifies as new pledges and outright gifts. Duke has witnessed greater success so far in Fiscal Year 2015, with total cash gifts increasing 10 percent from this point last year to $317.8 million and new commitments increasing 30 percent to $329.9 million.

The average age of donors who give $1 million or more is 60, however, Duke Forward is hoping to reach out to younger alumni, noting that getting recent graduates in the habit of donating will help Duke down the road, Shepard said.

"The campaign relies on people younger than 60," he added.

Duke Forward aims to have 70 percent of gifts toward Duke Forward's overall goal of $3.25 billion come from gifts of $1 million or higher, Shepard said. That means having 500 donors give gifts of $1 million or higher, but Shepard noted that the campaign is currently on track to meet this lofty goal.

When planning Campaign for Duke, 50 percent of donations came from individuals and 50 percent came from corporations or other entities. For Duke Forward, the University is hoping to grow the number of gifts from individuals to 60 or even 75 percent.

When it comes to Duke's signature initiatives, Duke has raised $25.5 million for the arts, $71 million for Bass Connections, $14.4 million for energy, $35.6 million for Global Health and $37.7 million for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Setting goals

Duke was planning on launching a capital campaign prior to the economic downturn, however after the 2008 financial crisis the University cancelled a campaign launch altogether. When discussions regarding a campaign launch began again, Lange and President Richard Brodhead thought a conservative campaign would be the best route.

"When the president ran that idea out to some of our key constituencies they said, 'No, don’t do that. if you're going to have a campaign, you have to go for it—be ambitious, things will turn around,'" Lange said.

Still, in some respects, Duke erred on the side of caution. Shepard noted that many of Duke's 10 schools set conservative goals as a result of the downturn.

Representatives from the Divinity School, Graduate School and Pratt all said their initial goals—of $80 million, $20 million and $161.5 million, respectively—were conservative.

Shepard and Trask noted that there has been some concern about whether the Graduate School will reach its goal, however, the school has made progress after receiving a $7.5 million gift from the Charlotte-based Duke Endowment in spring 2014.

Sandy York, development director at the Graduate School, said the Graduate School has raised $14.36 million thus far.

"The reality is—and we expect to hit the $20 million mark—is it's still going to only scratch the surface to fully fund our Ph.D students on 12-month fellowships," said Paula McClain, dean of the Graduate School.

Only in the past few years has the Graduate School tried to brand itself as its own school, McClain said. She noted that the recent addition of Graduate School mugs and shirts in the bookstore is indicative of this effort. As a result, this is the first time the Graduate School has attempted to raise funds as its own school instead of being lumped in with another school such as the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

McClain added that the career paths graduate students enter may not always be the most lucrative, which can hinder their ability to provide large donations.

"In some instances, our alums might not have [as much] financial capacity because of the careers they might have gone into as [the alums from] the Fuqua School of Business," she said. "But what we want to develop is just giving a little, the habit."

Richard Hays, dean of the Divinity School, noted that the Divinity School faces a similar challenge.

"It’s a particular challenge for the Divinity School because many of our alumni don’t make a lot of money," he said. "Some part of our significant donations come from people who are not alums of the school, may not have any previous connection to Duke at all, but learn what they do through our alumni."

Hays added that "the money is rolling in" for the Divinity School and that they just recently raised more than $85 million, exceeding its original goal by $5 million.

When asked whether the January controversy surrounding the Chapel call-to-prayer had affected donations, he said he had only heard of one donation actually being pulled—a $250,000 scholarship.

"We do sometimes hear about that. The whole world we work in, the kinds of people in faith communities, is a very complicated world politically," Hays said.

Clarke said that because Pratt plans on increasing its initial conservative goal of $161.5 million to $200 million this April because of the success that it has seen. Pratt has raised $160.75 million thus far.

The Law School's goal of $85 million was realistic, said David Levi, dean of the Law School, adding that they have raised 88 percent of their goal.

"When we started the campaign we were coming out of a very big recession in this country and the legal economy lagged and went into recession later," he said. "In one sense that has made some people more tentative about their own financial condition, but also exposed needs as well for higher education."

Levi added that the Law School has "outperformed" its original ambitions.

Kelly Brownell, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy, said Sanford's goal of $75 million is ambitious.

"It's ambitious, but we want to be ambitious," he said. "We want to make Sanford the best school of public policy it can possibly be."

Sanford has reached 68 percent of its total goal with $48 million.

Representatives from the Trinity School of Arts and Sciences and the Nicholas School of the Environment classified their campaign goals as ambitious but realistic.

Dean of Trinity Laurie Patton said Trinity has raised $343 million of its $435 million goal.

The Nicholas School was the first of Duke's schools to surpass its original goal. Kevin McCarthy, associate dean of development and alumni relations at the Nicholas School, said they have raised $57 million of its $55 million goal.

The Fuqua School of Business has raised $72 million toward its $100 million goal.

"Our total raised thus far surpasses the original estimates of what we would be capable of raising during Duke Forward, and we are confident that our alumni and friends will help us reach $100 million by 2017," Hank Woods, associate dean for development and alumni relations at Fuqua, wrote in an email March 23.

Duke Medicine has an overall goal of $1.2 billion for the School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Duke University Health System. The School of Medicine has raised $845 million toward its goal of $970 million for the School of Medicine.

"I think the campaign goal is definitely achievable, and I would like to see us exceed it," Nancy Andrews, dean of the medical school and vice chancellor for academic affairs, wrote in an email March 31.

Fundraising after a downturn

Capital campaigns are not directly related to strategic plans, however, they can guide the fundraising priorities of a capital campaign, Lange said. In 2000, the University commenced planning for a strategic plan that was launched in 2006 known as "Making a Difference."

Making a Difference, which was slated to raise $1.3 billion, launched signature programs such as Duke Engage and completed the Financial Aid Initiative, among other milestones. But not every initiative in Making a Difference was executed. A main priority for the 100-page plan was the complete overhaul of Central Campus to create what would have been known as New Campus.

The Board of Trustees approved Phase I of New Campus in the summer of 2008. Phase I included the construction of dining, residential and study spaces as an extension of West Campus, according to a 2008 Chronicle article.

"The new Central Campus was a very expensive proposition. We never got full costs in, [but] it would probably be $700 to $800 million," Trask said. "To do anything we needed enough done in the first phase for something to be there, which I'm guessing [would have been] $400 million."

The 2008 financial crisis squashed any hope of starting the New Campus project though.

"It was too much to put into a $3 billion campaign when there are other pressing priorities," Trask said.

Lange echoed a similar sentiment.

"You have to spend a lot of money or none—it wasn’t like you could do it in little pieces," he said. "When the money shrank, then the amount you would have to devote to that project would squeeze out too much else, so you'd be left in a situation where you could do Central Campus but wouldn’t have money for the other things you want to do."

The 2006 strategic plan was then renewed from 2008-10 while the University was planning for Duke Forward.

Provost Sally Kornbluth said new priorities emerged during this time period, though New Campus was left out of the equation.

"The 2006 plan permeates everything we know today about Duke," she said. "Fundraising is there to fulfill promise of that plan."

Kornbluth said she "doesn't see New Campus being revisited anytime soon in terms of a strategic planning goal." The University is currently in the pre-planning phase prior to launching a new strategic plan.

"When you make investments, there's always a tradeoff," she said. "New Campus was envisioned at a time where resources were more abundant."

Although the University plans to use money from the capital campaign for the creation of new buildings, this is different than channeling resources toward New Campus.

"It's a little different from envisioning New Campus from scratch," Kornbluth said.

The University is investing in new capital programs such as an Arts Building, said to cost approximately $35 million in a 2014 Towerview article, as well as a new engineering building.

Trask said the new engineering building will provide more lab space for students in the Pratt School of Engineering as well as the Trinity School of Arts and Science physics department. The Board of Trustees will vote to approve the building Fall 2015. He expects it will require $35 million from alumni.

"We have internal money earmarked for building or money that has come through the university for the strategic needs of school," said Chris Clarke, Pratt's associate dean for development and principal gifts. "We have some anchor gifts that will drive that particular initiative once it is announced."

The campaign still has two more years to fully realize its goals. There are several areas the University particularly hopes to strengthen.

"The biggest disappointment to date is that we thought we'd have more for the endowment and more for financial aid than we do today," Trask said.


Share and discuss “Duke Forward: Same goal, different spin” on social media.