Harvard seeks $6.5 billion in record fundraising drive

Harvard University. (Photo: Amanda Art/Metro)
Harvard is the richest university in the U.S. Credit: Amanda Art/Metro

Harvard, the richest university in the United States, said on Saturday it would seek to raise some $6.5 billion in donations to fund new academic initiatives and bolster its financial aid program.

The fundraising drive by the Cambridge, Mass., institution is the biggest in Harvard’s history and believed to be the most ambitious ever undertaken by a university, ahead of one concluded last year by Stanford University in California that raised $6.2 billion.

Harvard unveiled its campaign at an event featuring Bill Gates, who spent three years at the school in the 1970s before dropping out to co-found Microsoft Corp.

Gates, who is back on top of Forbes magazine’s richest people list, joked about his decision to leave the university during a talk before alumni and donors.

“You never say that you are ‘dropping out’ of Harvard. I ‘went on leave’ from Harvard,” he said. “If things hadn’t worked out for my company, Microsoft, I could have come back.”

Gates did not say whether he intended to donate to the ambitious campaign. A spokesman for the billionaire, whose foundation has made several grants to the university, said later on Saturday there was nothing to announce.

The university has already raised $2.8 billion from more than 90,000 donors during the pre-launch phase of the campaign, its first major fundraising drive in more than a decade, it said in a press release.

Harvard’s investment portfolio is worth about $30.7 billion, roughly the size of the annual gross domestic product of the Baltic nation of Latvia.

That endowment shrank 0.05 percent in the fiscal year ended in 2012, after double-digit gains the previous year, according to the most recent figures from the university.

“The endowment is meant to last forever. … It enables our faculty to do groundbreaking research and supports financial aid for our students,” Vice President for Alumni Affairs & Development Tamara Rogers said in a statement. “In order to undertake new activities, we are going to have to raise new funds.”

Nearly half of the money raised in the new campaign will support teaching and research, while a quarter will go for financial aid and related programs. The rest will go toward capital improvements and a flexible fund, according to Harvard, recently ranked America’s No. 2 university behind Princeton by U.S. News & World Report.

Four years ago, Harvard was forced to suspend its campus expansion and put the construction of a $1 billion science complex on hold after its endowment lost 27.3 percent during the financial crisis.

Funds from the campaign will help finance that project in Boston’s Allston neighborhood. Construction resumed a year ago.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Humans should thank ancient Scottish fish fossils for…

By Kate KellandLONDON (Reuters) - Scientists studying fossils have discovered that the intimate act of sexual intercourse used by humans was pioneered by ancient armored…

National

Comet makes rare close pass by Mars as…

By Irene KlotzNEW YORK (Reuters) - A comet from the outer reaches of the solar system on Sunday made a rare, close pass by Mars…

Local

NYPD: Man found hanging in Brooklyn subway station

A man was found hanging inside a Brooklyn subway station on Saturday morning, police said. The man, who still had not been identified on Sunday,…

Local

Only church destroyed in 9/11 set to rebuild

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, the only house of worship destroyed during the terrorist attacks on 9/11, held a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday to start the…

Television

9 things we learned about 'Hannibal' Season 3…

There’s plenty of fall television to be excited about, but the crowd inside the Paley Center for Media on Saturday night only wanted one thing:…

Going Out

Watch home cooks try to impress Tom Colicchio…

Is what you’re making for dinner tonight good enough to serve “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio? That’s the standard that some of the city’s best…

Television

‘Homeland’ recap: Season 4, Episode 4 ‘Iron in…

Carrie Mathison, what are you doing?! Don’t seduce virgins! More on that later: Lots of crazy stuff went down on the "Iron in the Fire" ep of "Homeland"!

Movies

Box office: Brad Pitt kills Nazis, also Nicholas…

This weekend, Brad Pitt's second WWII movie, "Fury," rolled into the lead, while the latest Nicholas Sparks movie, "The Best of Me," got little love.

College

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State…

College football AP Top 25 rankings: Mississippi State holds off FSU

NHL

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in…

NHL Power Rankings: Sharks, Canadiens, Blackhawks out in front

NFL

DeMarco Murray carries Cowboys to win over Giants

The Giants knew they would need to stop DeMarco Murray if they were going to leave Dallas with a win. It didn't matter.

NFL

Jets trade for wide receiver Percy Harvin: Report

According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, the Jets have sent a conditional draft pick to the Seahawks for wide receiver Percy Harvin.

Wellbeing

Gabby Bernstein: The 3 questions I always get

For the last decade, I’ve been writing self-help books and preaching the Gospel of Gabby to audiences throughout the world. And no matter what country…

Wellbeing

Health News: 5K for lung cancer, free yoga,…

Get some fresh air to benefit lung cancer research On Friday, the first-ever Brooklyn Free to Breathe Run/Walk will take place Oct. 26 at Cadman Plaza…

Education

Can these two college students come up with…

Two Atlanta college students say they have an idea for a simple test that would quickly diagnosis the Ebola virus - and it all started…

Education

Chances are, the average college student isn't taking…

As a bachelor’s degree becomes more expensive than ever, one new report is criticizing colleges for the content of those pricey educations. The American Council…