Iowa State passes $1.1 billion goal 2 years early

Fast fundraising extends campaign, goal to $1.5 billion

Beardshear Hall on the Iowa State University campus in Ames on Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Beardshear Hall on the Iowa State University campus in Ames on Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Two years ahead of schedule, Iowa State University has reached it’s $1.1 billion goal for its largest-ever fundraising campaign. And now it’s aiming for more.

Passing that marker has prompted ISU officials to raise the bar and extend the drive.

The “Forever True, For Iowa State” campaign aim is now $1.5 billion by June 30, 2021. With a name inspired by the ISU fight song, the campaign rallying support for scholarships, faculty, facilities and programming launched its quiet phase in 2012.

ISU went public in September 2016 with its goal of $1.1 billion by June 30, 2020. That was about the time University of Iowa was wrapping its “For Iowa. Forever more” campaign. That UI campaign, also its largest in school history, began quietly in 2008 before going public with a $1.7 billion goal in 2013.

It, too, surpassed its aim — reaching nearly $2 billion by February 2017.

During the quiet portion of Iowa State’s campaign, the university amassed more than $551 million, ISU Foundation President Larissa Holtmyer Jones told The Gazette at the campaign’s public launch in 2016. Among its biggest contributions during the public portion of the drive was a gift in the form of an equity interest in a corporation.

When the gift of equity interest in Curriculum Associates LLC was announced in January 2017, officials projected its value at $93 million — to be used in support of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. But the ISU Foundation later announced net proceeds from a 2017 sale of its equity interest in the corporation at $159 million.

Another major gift came in fall 2017 when Iowa State alumn Jerry Ivy and his wife Debbie, of Los Altos Hills, Calif., donated $50 million to the College of Business, its largest-ever commitment. In recognition of the donation, the college was renamed the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business — making it the first donor-named college on campus.

In a statement this week, ISU President Wendy Wintersteen touted momentum and energy within the “Cyclone family” as propelling the campaign past its fundraising goal so soon.

“While we’ve met our campaign goal, our work is not yet done,” she said. “There are still needs to be met, and ideals and aspirations to champion.”

Philanthropy has been playing an increasingly crucial role in Iowa’s public universities’ budgets as lawmakers continue to cut state support as part of what the Board of Regents leadership and school presidents have called a generational disinvestment in public higher education.

Students are watching tuition rates rise, along with fees and costs for room and board, making external funding in the form of research grants and private giving paramount to the universities’ continued success.

Iowa State officials have said giving toward the campaign will support the school’s land-grant ideals and “ensure access to an exceptional education, advance the university’s expertise in key areas that address global challenges, and enhance Iowa State’s impact on the economy and quality of life in Iowa and around the world.”

Wintersteen’s priorities, according to the university, include establishing a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem; recruiting and nurturing esteemed faculty; prioritizing student-centered experiences in every college; implementing new approaches to up graduate rates; and leading the way as an inclusive and welcoming campus.

To date, about 79,000 people have contributed to the campaign, with more than 24,000 first-time donors.

In a statement, ISU Foundation President Jones said she’s excited about the prospect of continuing the campaign.

“We have achieved an amazing amount of success with the campaign thanks to gifts of every size,” she said. “I look forward to partnering with President Wintersteen, our volunteers and our donors to make this a campaign that truly exceeds all our expectations as it embraces her leadership and vision.”

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