Education

Clemson surpasses $1 billion goal in The Will to Lead capital campaign

Clemson University has surpassed its goal of raising $1 billion in 10 years, making its capital campaign, The Will to Lead, the largest successful fundraising effort by a public university with fewer than 150,000 alumni, according to the university.

The campaign went over the billion-dollar mark by more than $62.5 million as of June 30.

“Our alumni and donors have made this the largest fundraising effort in the history of South Carolina,” President Jim Clements said. “Completing this campaign is an incredible milestone for Clemson, and it is a true testament to the loyalty and dedication of our alumni, donors, corporate partners and friends.”

The campaign, begun under the presidency of Jim Barker, started in 2006 with a goal of $500,000. Then the Great Recession hit.

But rather than scale back projections, planners decided to move ahead and raise the goal to $600,000. The campaign topped that mark in July 2012, and set a new goal of $1 billion.

In the past 10 years, 682 new scholarships and fellowships were created, 26 professorships and endowed chair positions were established, and numerous academic and athletic facilities have been renovated, built or are under construction.

There were 375,141 unique gifts to the campaign, 403 planned gifts and 130 donors made cumulative gifts of $1 million or more, according to the university.

The campaign increased the university’s endowment by $212 million to bring it to $625 million. It also increased annual giving for academic programs, provided funding for new or renovated construction and expanded athletic facilities, the university said.

“The Will to Lead campaign has been a game-changer for Clemson in so many ways,” said Board Chairman Smyth McKissick, who also was chairman of the capital campaign. “This student-centered campaign has created life-changing opportunities for the young men and women who attend our university, and it has provided unprecedented support for our faculty and staff.

“The campaign has united the Clemson family as never before in support of the common goal of making Clemson better and our students the best they can be.”

McKissick said he believes the campaign was successful because of four “pillars” it was based on: outstanding leadership from Clements and former president Barker; great work by development officers who helped potential donors understand the importance of their support; great work by volunteers representing every class at the university; and “an incredibly generous Clemson family that was excited about seeing us improve and investing in our success.”

“It really begins with the fact that this was just like the university in that it was a student-centered capital campaign,” McKissick said. “This was always about raising money to invest in the student experience, investing in faculty, investing in scholarships, investing in facilities.”

While The Will to Lead has concluded, fundraising for the university will continue, McKissick said.

“The campaign is over, but the need is still there, so we’ll keep raising money,” he said.

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