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Record-Breaking Year in Philanthropy

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NC State is in the midst of its most ambitious fundraising campaign and donors are responding in extraordinary, record-setting fashion.

The university received $224.8 million in gifts and pledges for the 2016-17 fiscal year that ended June 30 – the highest one-year giving total in NC State history and a 39 percent increase over 2015-16. This private support from alumni, faculty and staff, students, and other friends and partners boosts every aspect of campus life – from scholarships and fellowships to professorships, program support and buildings.

Among the giving highlights for last year:

  • 71 new scholarships and fellowships created 
  • 11 new distinguished professorships established (among 54 endowed faculty positions established in the past five years)
  • $57.6 million in new commitments designated toward teaching and research facilities
  • $84 million raised in support of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Among the transformational gifts received during 2016-17 were the Golden LEAF Foundation’s investment in the Plant Sciences Initiative and a commitment from Ann and Jim Goodnight that has expanded the Goodnight Scholars Program to include transfer students who have earned associate degrees from North Carolina community colleges.

The Plant Sciences Initiative is a partnership between the university and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services designed to make North Carolina the primary global hub for plant sciences and agricultural innovation. Its home will be a $160.2 million research complex planned for Centennial Campus.                

Since 2008, the Goodnight Scholars Program has provided the full cost of attendance for selected high-achieving North Carolina students from low- and middle-income backgrounds who are majoring in STEM and STEM-education fields. The addition of 10 transfer students means that there will be 210 Goodnight Scholars on campus for 2017-18, with 50 selected from each incoming freshman class.

Giving participation is also on the rise at NC State:

  • Total alumni giving increased from $79 to $92 million.  
  • The number of faculty and staff donors increased 21 percent, with total gifts topping $2.5 million.
  • The number of student donors increased 133 percent and total gifts increased 30 percent, from $41,931 to $54,651. Every college was represented by student donors, who supported 141 different funds, and gifts of $50 or less from students translated into more than $23,000 in support.

During the fiscal year, the university received gifts from all 100 counties in North Carolina, all 50 states and 43 other countries.

The university has been building fundraising momentum. Gift receipts, an important measure of “cash in the door,” totaled just under $145 million, marking the sixth consecutive year that receipts have exceeded $100 million. Gifts and new commitments have averaged $197.4 million over the past five years.

“NC State has been on a strong upward trajectory since the arrival of Chancellor Randy Woodson in 2010,” said Brian Sischo, vice chancellor for university advancement. “To unleash our potential as a truly world-class university, we need to continue working hard to develop a strong culture of philanthropy and engagement. We’re tremendously grateful for the leadership of our Campaign co-chairs – Jimmy and Vickie Clark, Lawrence and Sarah Davenport, Jim and Ann Goodnight, and Lonnie and Carol Poole – and for every volunteer and donor.

“There are so many great things happening at this institution. I’m excited that the word is getting out and more people want to be part of what’s going on at NC State.”

The university launched its five-year Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign publicly on October 28, with the goal of raising $1.6 billion to better position NC State as an educational, economic and research powerhouse – for North Carolina and beyond. The Campaign’s priority areas are extraordinary opportunity, purpose, places, experience and leadership.

The Campaign’s total stood at $1.04 billion at that public launch, through the end of its silent phase. At the June 30 fiscal-year mark, the total raised was $1,115,888,330 – 72 percent of the goal.

The chancellor said that fundraising is closely aligned with the university’s strategic vision.

“I tell everyone we can be a very good university with state support, but we can’t settle for being very good. To really be a great university, it takes philanthropy – it takes those additional resources,” Woodson said. “All of our goals for the Campaign are tied to our strategic plan. We put student success front and center, and that means not only increasing scholarships but the efforts that we’ve put into supporting students while they’re here.

“We’ve built living and learning villages in our residence halls to support our students, for example. We’ve improved advising. We’ve put better information technology tools in the hands of our faculty and students to help them navigate a very complex university. We’re also very focused on providing more opportunities for our students to participate in study abroad, undergraduate research and other high-impact experiences that position them for success.”

Donor support is vital to improving the student experience, Woodson said, and to another key strategic goal: a commitment to attracting and retaining outstanding faculty who are leaders in education and in collaborative discovery that addresses the world’s biggest challenges.

“All of what we’ve done in recent years has been with the focus on having the best faculty in the country, and a lot of that comes with financial investment,” he said. “We’ve created 54 new distinguished professorships in the past five years that are named by donors to support our faculty. That goes a long way in making sure we have the right faculty to inspire students and to lead innovative research and important partnerships.

“To compete for those top professors, especially with the best public universities, a floor that everyone shoots for is around 20 percent of your faculty in endowed positions. We would like to get to 400 distinguished professorships and we’re about halfway there.”

In addition to achieving the $1.6 billion goal, Woodson said, a successful Campaign means helping NC State maintain its momentum.

“So many people are passionate about this university, and we need to keep making connections and engaging our entire community in our vision,” he said. “NC State has always been a place of opportunity and an institution that gets things done. It’s exciting to build on our legacy in even bigger and bolder ways. We’re proud of the progress that we’re making together, and I’m confident that NC State has a tremendous future.”