The Gator Nation Celebrates: The Gator Nation celebrates as UF’s Florida Tomorrow campaign concludes

Published: October 5th, 2012

Category: Spotlights

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Alumni, friends from all 50 states and more than 90 countries help spur innovation in everything from tomatoes and medicine to space exploration and robotics

The University of Florida today celebrates the successful conclusion of its Florida Tomorrow campaign, which raised more than $1.7 billion in gifts, pledges and commitments — $201 million more than the $1.5 billion goal – and is now one of the most successful ever completed by a public university.

The funds raised from Florida Tomorrow are used to support many areas including student scholarships, fellowships, faculty support, academic programs, facilities and research. With the $108 million the university has already received in state matching grants and another $156 million in queue from state matching funds, the potential impact could be almost $2 billion.

“Gators around the world responded to the call to strengthen their university,” University of Florida President Bernie Machen said. “The impact of these gifts will be felt far beyond campus. This campaign will drive cutting-edge research, provide the skilled workforce needed to power our economy and help UF experts improve lives throughout the state, the nation and the world.”

Among the advancements the campaign has made possible: Better health care, more opportunities for academically talented students and life-changing research – all of which will affect Floridians throughout the state.

In one particularly notable example, the university announced today a $10 million anonymous gift to support the Florida Opportunity Scholars program, which Machen created in 2005. The donors have requested that the program be renamed the Bernie and Chris Machen Opportunity Scholars Program.

Florida Opportunity Scholarships support bright and talented students who might not otherwise attend UF because of financial barriers and are the first in their families to attend college.

“Private support from alumni and friends has allowed us to continue to further strengthen and sustain excellence during recent challenging times,” said Thomas Mitchell, UF’s vice president for development and alumni affairs. Mitchell, along with volunteer campaign co-chairs Beth McCague of Jacksonville and Earl Powell of Miami, led the campaign effort.

Among other highlights from the campaign:

  • The campaign hit a record number of gifts for UF with a total of about 865,000.
  • There were more than 506,000 gifts from UF alumni worldwide during Florida Tomorrow.  Alumni donations reached almost $590 million.
  • Support from students reached almost  $1.7 million, with more than 25,000 students making gifts to their university.
  • Contributions from faculty, staff and retired staff exceeded $70 million.

While the campaign produced support worldwide, Floridians contributed more than $1.23 billion, almost three-quarters of the total money raised.

“It’s encouraging to note that alumni and friends in the state of Florida have chosen to invest in their university,” McCague said, “and we are so pleased to see so many students participate in the Florida Tomorrow Campaign. Our future is in good hands thanks to these young Gators.”

Although the campaign took place during challenging economic times, it garnered an unprecedented number of gifts, with more than 102,000 gifts from new donors who had never given to the university prior to the campaign. UF’s donors established more than 100 new endowed faculty positions to help UF recruit and retain the most talented faculty members; added 250 Florida Opportunity Scholarships; and created 15 new teaching and learning facilities and centers.

Faculty positions, scholarships and teaching and learning centers are often created with funds designated for a specific purpose. These restricted gifts represented more than 98 percent of the gifts during the seven-year campaign. Private support provides the margin of excellence beyond funding provided by the state.

More than $1 billion was given to support university programs and research. This money will assist in continuing efforts to better the lives of Floridians through advances in health and sustainability measures, as well as areas such as agricultural improvement and technological advances.

As a result, Powell said, UF is positioned to address things that are important to you: your health, energy and sustainability, training tomorrow’s leaders, global cultures and economies, entrepreneurship and innovation.

The campaign, launched in July 2005, closed on Sept. 30, 2012. This was the third comprehensive campaign completed by the University of Florida. The first campaign, Embrace Excellence, raised $392 million from 1986 to1991.  The university launched its second campaign, It’s Performance That Counts, in 1995. It closed in 2000 at $850.4 million.

At the start of the Florida Tomorrow campaign, the university endowment totaled $836 million. The seven-year campaign grew the endowment to $1.3 billion.

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