UF Concludes $1.7 Billion Campaign

Florida Tomorrow helped raise money for students, faculty and research.

1.7 Billion.

Seven years

251,000 donors.

Those were just a few of the big numbers revealed tonight when the University of Florida celebrated the end of its capital campaign, Florida Tomorrow.

Officials had announced earlier in the week that Florida Tomorrow had surpassed its $1.5 billion goal, but declined to say by how much until tonight’s announcement. In the end, it became the sixth largest public university campaign in history.

“We’ve had great support from a whole lot of people during this campaign,” President Bernie Machen told the audience gathered at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. “We’re so proud of it because of what it means we can do as a university. We believe our reach is truly global, and we believe all of that is possible because of you.”

Money raised during the campaign has supported building construction, faculty endowments, scholarships and other initiatives. In fact, campaign statistics revealed tonight included:

  • 15 new teaching and learning centers
  • 126 new faculty positions endowed
  • 250 new scholarships
  • 28 buildings constructed or planned

“You’re helping the university achieve its mission and serve the people of this state, our country and, indeed, the world,” Machen said.

The UF Band helped pump up the crowd as UF's $1.7 billion fundraising total was announced.

Several hundred Gators — including UF’s marching band — gathered at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to celebrate the end of the Florida Tomorrow campaign, which raised $1.7 billion in seven years.

One of the major beneficiaries of the campaign has been the Florida Opportunity Scholars program, which offers assistance to low-income students who are the first in their families to go to college. The program, started by President Bernie Machen and his wife, Chris, in 2006, has helped 2,600 students so far, more than 800 of whom have already graduated.

The program recently received a $10 million anonymous gift to help fund the scholarships. The university plans to raise another $10 million in coming months to create a permanent endowment for Florida Opportunity Scholars, which will be renamed in honor of the Machens.

“It’s hard to express our feelings for those of you how have supported this program that is so, so dear to our hearts,” Machen said.

Tonight’s celebration, themed “Because of You,” put special emphasis on donors, who provide critical private support for the university. It was part of a day of celebrations that included a pancake breakfast for students and a luncheon to recognize donors of faculty endowments.

UF officials say it will be a couple of years before they embark on another campaign, although they plan to stay busy in the meantime with initiatives such as the Chris and Bernie Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program.

And when the next capital campaign does come along, be prepared for it to be a big one, said Tom Mitchell, vice president for Development and Alumni Affairs.

“Think double,” he told the media at an event earlier in the day.

 — Cinnamon Bair*

*UF Alumni Association member

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