The University of South Carolina and Clemson University have combined to raise more than $1 billion for their years-long, big-money campaigns.
The drives to pay for everything from science labs to soccer fields should push fundraising toward record levels at the Palmetto State’s two largest colleges this year. USC expects to break the $122 million fundraising mark that it set last year, while Clemson should go past $90 million – not far from its record set four years ago.
“That’s the advantage of a kitchen-sink campaign,” said Michelle Dodenhoff, USC’s vice president for development and alumni relations. “You can engage more people about the image of the university.”
South Carolina started its $1 billion campaign last year. It lasts into 2015. USC had raised $559.4 million through March 30. Meanwhile, Clemson is $10 million away from reaching its goal of $600 million by July 1.
USC will promote its campaign, called Carolina’s Promise, with simultaneous parties Thursday in 28 cities – from Columbia to Chicago to New York. A group of students studying abroad will watch festivities from Chile, Dodenhoff said.
Video feeds at some of the parties will be shown across the country. Local alumni have been invited to a gathering at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
USC president Harris Pastides will attend a party in Los Angeles at CBS Television City, which is run by Gamecock alum Barry Zegel. Campaign chairman David Seaton will be at an event in Dallas, where he is chief executive of Fluor Corp.
“We’re bringing the university to them,” Dodenhoff said.
Money from Carolina’s Promise has been used to build the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center and Rice Athletics Center. It also will be used to construct a new law school building and alumni center. More of the money will be used to pay for scholarships, recruit and retain faculty, and bolster research funding and the school’s endowment.
Funding from Clemson’s campaign, called The Will to Lead, will go toward more scholarships, fellowships and endowed chairs, and growing the endowment. The drive already has paid for a new packaging science building and an academic center.
“We had a lot of folks come in early in the campaign,” said Brian O’Rourke, Clemson’s director of development and alumni affairs.
Clemson added $100 million to its original goal of $500 million and set its annual fundraising record in 2007-08, just as the economic downturn started to take hold, O’Rourke said.
Despite the downturn, the two biggest contributions to Will to Lead have come in the past year – $5 million from the family of former Chicago Bridge & Iron chief executive Gerald Glenn and $5.5 million from the family of Scientific Research Corp. founder Charles Watt.
USC’s Dodenhoff said the frail economy has been a challenge – especially with the university competing for dollars with other Columbia-area and statewide organizations. Carolina’s Promise received its largest contribution to date in 2010 – a $30 million gift from William and Lou Kennedy for a pharmacy innovation center. (The two later announced plans for a Lexington pharmaceutical-making facility.)
“We have been very fortunate,” Dodenhoff said.