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MIT Kicks Off Most Ambitious Capital Campaign in its History

By Douglas E. Heimburger

MIT will formally announce its $1.5 Billion capital campaign today, which will be the most ambitious funding drive in the Institute’s history.

The campaign, entitled “Calculated Risks, Creative Revolutions,” has been in progress since July 1997 and has already raised $643 million from 44,000 donors.

This weekend, 600 potential donors will descend on Kresge Auditorium for a day-long series of discussions, followed by a black-tie dinner in Rockwell Cage. Donors will receive lectures from speakers including architect Frank O. Gehry, commissioned to design the new Stata Center.

Chairing the campaign will be Raymond S. Stata ’57, whose gift of $25 million in 1997 was the largest single gift for an infrastructure project in MIT history. The Stata Center later received $15 million from Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr and $20 million from William H. Gates III.

“MIT has had an enormous impact on society and on people’s lives, and I see this campaign as a catalyst to enable MIT to make great things to happen in the future,” Stata said.

“It is our challenge to attack and solve the next generation of great problems,” said President Charles M. Vest. “Doing that will require some calculated risks: predicting the next generation of intellectual revolutions, and putting our chips down early.”

“Our value to practical concerns accrues ultimately from our enthusiasm for exploring the truly unknown. That is the ultimate rationale for supporting a university.”

The new capital campaign is more than twice the size of “Campaign for the Future,” which raised $710 million for the Institute between 1987 and 1992.

Money for buildings, research

The new capital campaign seeks funding for four broad areas. The first, with a goal of $550 million, will support new directions in research and education. Money in this category will support programs in political economy, comparative media studies, the arts, and the library system, among other areas.

The second, also with a goal of $550 million, will enhance the learning community. This money will go towards undergraduate and graduate scholarships, faculty chairs, and undergraduate student life. The campaign proposes to significantly enhance the amount of graduate scholarships, partially through eliminating summer tuition for graduate students.

A third category, totaling $300 million, will go towards renewing the physical infrastructure of the Institute. Money in this category will help fund the Stata Center, Sloan School of Management extension, and new undergraduate and graduate dormitories. MIT will supplant the $300 million in expected gifts with at least $300 million in Institute funds, according to the capital campaign documents.

A final category, entitled the Millennium Fund and totaling $100 million, will provide MIT with unrestricted funds to “act quickly, change direction, and support new ideas as they emerge,” according to the campaign documents.