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 Chancellor Birgeneau "kicks off" the gala fundraising campaign
The Campaign for Berkeley entered its public phase last week with a panoply of events and celebrations. Chancellor Birgeneau, in a skit welcoming guests to Saturday’s gala fundraising-campaign “kickoff” dinner on Memorial Glade, appeared to have more than one ambitious goal on his mind. (Peg Skorpinski photo)
 
  Slideshow: Bluegrass and Benefactors: a campaign kickoff to remember

‘Thanks to Berkeley’ rings out across campus
The curtain goes up on a $3 billion fundraising effort, with a bevy of public and private events — and one grand unveiling

| 24 September 2008

The Campaign for Berkeley
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With a flourish of drums and a shout of “Thanks to Berkeley!”, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau gave the public phase of Berkeley’s biggest-ever fundraising campaign a rousing kickoff Friday in Dwinelle Plaza.

The Campaign for Berkeley aims to raise $3 billion in private money by 2013 to boost the campus’s commitment to “access and excellence,” Birgeneau said. The sheer size of the effort, he added, breaks the record for any American university that doesn’t have a medical school.

The money raised “will touch every school and college at UC Berkeley and every corner of our campus,” Birgeneau exclaimed.

Behind him, a giant gold ribbon was cut and a blue tarp whooshed to the ground, revealing a 72-foot mural paved with photographs of Berkeley students, faculty, staff, and administrators illustrating the campaign’s theme: “Thanks to Berkeley.”

The public kickoff, complete with the Straw Hat Band, Rally Committee, Dance Team, and a cavorting Oski, capped a week of campus activities aiming to attract attention to the campaign. The rally was followed Saturday by two high-profile events: a public discussion by the campus’s Nobel Prize winners and other highly honored faculty, and a gala dinner for major fundraisers inside a big white tent pitched in Memorial Glade.

The campaign, by far Berkeley’s most ambitious fundraising effort to date, aims to help close the substantial funding gap between Berkeley, a public university, and top private universities like Stanford and Harvard. Two earlier Berkeley campaigns, in the late 1980s and 1990s, raised $350 million and then $1.4 billion.

Half the $3 billion raised this time would go toward building the campus’s endowment for faculty and staff, including $300 million for undergraduate scholarships, $340 million for graduate fellowships, $390 million for faculty support, and $450 million to fund research.

Another one-fifth of the money would go toward building projects and facilities upgrades.

The UC Board of Regents approved the campaign last Thursday, at its meeting in Irvine.

Friday’s rally took the campaign public after a three-year “quiet phase” that brought in nearly $1.3 billion, or 43 percent of the campaign’s goal. By the end of August, 276,745 gifts and pledges had come in from more than 150,000 different donors.

Topping the list is Berkeley’s biggest gift ever, $113 million from the Hewlett Foundation, in the form of a challenge grant with the goal of raising $220 million to endow 100 faculty chairs.

Just a year into the challenge, funding is just about halfway there, the chancellor told reporters before Friday’s Dwinelle Plaza rally. Forty-three Hewlett chairs have been finalized so far, with several more in discussion, says campaign communications director Jose Rodriguez of University Relations.

“We have found that, psychologically, a challenge inspires people to step up. People love a match,” Birgeneau said.

Friday’s kickoff coincided with the nation’s worst economic crisis since 1987’s Black Monday, when the stock market set a single-day- loss record of 22 percent. Coincidentally, Berkeley’s “Keeping the Promise” fundraising campaign launched just weeks before that global economic catastrophe.

This time, after unveiling the “Thanks to Berkeley” mural, Birgeneau told the Dwinelle Plaza crowd, “I also want to thank the federal government for bailing out the economy, so we don’t have to launch the campaign on the worst financial day of the 21st century.”

The “Thanks to Berkeley” mural will stand in Dwinelle Plaza through the duration of the campaign.