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MIT Ahead of Schedule With Capital Campaign

By Vincent Chen


After soliciting $1.27 billion in donations in less than two years, MIT appears to be ahead of its capital campaign goal of raising $1.5 billion by the end of 2004.

MIT administrators are pleased with the progress to date. “The campaign is going very well. We have more than $1.2 billion of a $1.5 billion goal,” said Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75. “Despite the economic downturn, I am confident that with more than three years remaining, we will reach or surpass our goal.”

William J. Hecht ’61, executive vice president of the alumni association, expressed similar sentiments. “Prior to September 11th, the pace was proceeding substantially faster than we would have predicted,” Hecht said. “We’ve had some wonderful and delightful surprises ... We’ve seen giving in this campaign on a scale that MIT hasn’t seen before.”

Early in the campaign, a number of extraordinarily large gifts helped get the campaign moving quickly, including a $100 million donation by Kenan E. Sahin ’63. Sahin announced his donation during the campaign’s kickoff event.

“We’d like to continue the pace of giving we’ve had and to broaden the base of participation,” Hecht said. “It is important that lots of MIT alumni, even those with only modest means available to them, contribute.”

Student life donations fall behind

The Campaign for MIT has already exceeded the goals for unrestricted donations and those allocated to faculty chairs. However, Hecht said that some campaigns have received less attention from donors.

MIT set a goal of $100 million for Undergraduate Education and Student Life, and thus far only $46.8 million has been raised. “Student life is the only area that is lagging behind,” said Director of Resource Development Stephen A. Dare. “In the past six to eight months we have begun a campaign to attract more, to articulate the goal of student life and learning, and we will continue to push on that.”

Dare said that “this is the first time I’ve seen this category, so it’s been a new challenge. You have to communicate to alumni what their money is going for.” MIT is currently creating a pamphlet that outlines how donations to Undergraduate Education and Student Life will be used.

Hecht said that MIT will coax undecided donors to contribute toward the student life fund.

“We’re clearly going to focus on the parts of the perceived need where we are not progressing as rapidly as we’d like,” Hecht said. “If a donor is neutral, if a donor says ‘I want to give you a gift, tell me where to give it,’ we’ll be happy to aim it where it’s needed.”

Campaign addresses broad goals

Clay said that the broad goal of the campaign is to “enhance, reinforce and support excellence at MIT.” Much of MIT’s future construction projects will be supported by the campaign. “In addition to capital projects such as new athletic and residential facilities, the campaign supports faculty chairs, new academic buildings, undergraduate and graduate financial aid.”

Clay noted that increasing the size of MIT’s endowment helps to supplement the annual budget. “Income from the endowment also helps support the general budget so as to limit pressure to increase tuition, room rents and fees,” he said.