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Think and Do the Extraordinary

NC State Fundraising Campaign Comes to an Extraordinary End

fireworks around the Memorial Belltower

In October 2016, NC State University publicly launched its most ambitious fundraising effort to date with the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign. The Campaign, which came to a close Dec. 31, 2021, was by far the largest in the university’s history and saw members of the Wolfpack community rally like never before to power us well past our target of $1.6 billion.

In all, NC State raised $2,103,932,120 to help further its land-grant mission of creating economic, societal and intellectual prosperity for all.

Only 12 other public universities in the United States have ever closed fundraising campaigns at the $2 billion or higher level, which perfectly demonstrates how the Campaign has transformed NC State from a great institution into an extraordinary one. The grand total of $2,103,932,120 will help drive NC State far into the future by both reaffirming its commitment to broad educational opportunity and powering its cutting-edge, hands-on innovation as North Carolina’s leading science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) university.

Chancellor Randy Woodson said the Campaign’s campuswide success also provides a strong foundation as NC State launches a new strategic plan, as every college and unit surpassed its fundraising goal.

“The Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign has vividly illustrated the strength of our Pack and sets us up for a big, bold future,” Woodson said. “Through the generosity of our friends and alumni, we can now provide our students and faculty with the tools they need to learn, grow and succeed like never before. People all across North Carolina and beyond will benefit as a result.”

NC State has always been supported in large part by public funding through the state of North Carolina, but when the Campaign launched publicly in October 2016, university leaders emphasized that private support is critical in advancing the institution. 

The response was record-setting for NC State. In all, more than 128,000 donors from around the world contributed to the effort, including 67,751 alumni — 29,759 of whom donated to the university for the first time.

The Campaign’s impact was tremendous across all five of its priority areas: opportunity, purpose, places, experience and leadership.

The many highlights include the commitment to create more than 1,300 new scholarships and fellowships, which have already provided financial support for 5,000-plus additional students than before the Campaign’s launch.

There were 104 new endowed distinguished professorships established during the Campaign, too, each aimed at helping NC State recruit and retain talented educators and researchers. The university’s first three named, endowed college dean’s chairs were also among the Campaign’s many highlights impacting faculty.

Wilson College of Textiles joined Poole College of Management as NC State’s second named college.

Improving and expanding infrastructure was another focus. For example, Fitts-Woolard Hall, representing the largest campus-building naming in university history, opened for College of Engineering use in the summer of 2020 and was officially dedicated Oct. 29, 2021. Nearby on Centennial Campus, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences-led Plant Sciences Building, a dynamic new structure that will enable the college to seamlessly integrate research and innovation with its partners, opened in the spring of 2022. Both facilities were also supported through a successful statewide bond referendum.

A number of older facilities received attention, too. The Memorial Belltower, NC State’s iconic landmark honoring alumni who died while serving in World War I, was rededicated as the Memorial Belltower at Henry Square — renovated, restored and, after 100 years, completed with a full complement of 55 bells.

The Campaign’s direct impact on students has been widespread, too.

Existing campuswide scholarship programs such as the Park Scholars and Caldwell Fellows were strengthened, along with college-specific initiatives. The Goodnight Scholars Program was expanded to include a cohort of 50 transfer students from community colleges throughout North Carolina — one of several Campaign efforts focused on expanding pathways to an NC State degree.

A new Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship Initiative was launched to provide additional need-based scholarships to students from all majors. That effort, which made its first awards in spring 2021, has already raised $10 million and continues to gain momentum.

Outreaches such as the Student Emergency Fund were launched or bolstered during the Campaign and became even more critical with the arrival of COVID-19, helping students pay for housing, food, utilities, medicines, childcare and other critical needs. The Student Emergency Fund alone saw more than $1.26 million raised since March 2020, with thousands of students benefiting as a result. The fund has now provided 3,228 grants totaling $1,384,113.16 since its inception in 2018, with new meal-plan support bringing that figure to $1.5 million as part of its ongoing impact.

The Campaign also strengthened support for study abroad, leadership initiatives, diversity and inclusion efforts, athletics, the arts and many other areas.

Goals for growing NC State’s endowment — which provides critical, stable support through times of uncertainty and produces income supporting everything from scholarships to programs — were surpassed, as gifts and commitments to the endowment exceeded $1 billion. Along with strong investment returns, that support pushed the endowment’s total value to $1.95 billion by the end of the fiscal year June 30 — more than tripling its size since 2012.

Donors also demonstrated their enthusiasm through new, record-setting Day of Giving events during the Campaign, despite the pandemic. The 2020 event was pushed back from March to September to allow organizers to pivot to a fully virtual format yet still aid students, faculty and staff. The result was a phenomenal 8,230 gifts totaling $23,223,425, an increase of nearly $10 million over the 2019, pre-pandemic Day of Giving amount.

In March 2021, as students returned to campus and the academic calendar began resembling its normal self, NC State saw donors make an even more astounding 14,272 gifts totaling $58,103,657. Not only did this top the previous Day of Giving by a considerable margin, it also became the highest single-day fundraising total for any college or university in the United States, besting Purdue University’s $42.2 million in 2020.

Brain Sischo, vice chancellor for university advancement, said the Campaign’s extraordinary success is a testament to the passion and increased engagement of the NC State community as well as greater collaboration across campus. The results go hand-in-hand with the university’s strong upward trajectory, he added.

“I am humbled and honored by the way our Pack has relentlessly shown its commitment to our success during the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign,” Sischo said. “We’ve seen plenty of challenges over the last five years, but our supporters have helped us overcome each and every one of them. This effort truly is a pivotal moment for our university and will affect countless lives in the coming years.”

NC State would like to extend a special thanks to Vickie and Jimmy Clark, Sarah and Lawrence Davenport, Ann and Jim Goodnight, and Carol and Lonnie Poole for their service as Campaign co-chairs, as well as the many volunteers and employees who helped make the effort such an extraordinary success.