UB announces $650 million fundraising campaign

The university has raised 69 percent of its goal since campaign privately began in 2013


The university is looking to raise $650 million, the largest fundraising campaign in UB and SUNY history, President Satish Tripathi announced this morning in the Student Union amid confetti, streamers and a dancing Victor E. Bull.

Tripathi spoke to a crowd of roughly 150 people, announcing the “Boldly Buffalo” campaign, which has quietly raised $451 million –– 69 percent of its stated goal –– since it first began in 2013. The announcement kicked off UB Giving Day, the fourth annual campaign asking UB students, alumni and community members to consider donating.

Seventy percent of the campaign will fund student support in the form of scholarships, fellowship and endowments, according to Tripathi. Eighteen percent will go toward faculty support with the remaining going toward “community support.”

Rodney Grabowski, vice president for university advancement, began the ceremony with a short video outlining the campaign. The video spotlighted successful alumni and current work in engineering, medicine, social work and architecture, and emphasized “real-world” impacts through faculty and student research.

Grabowski said the campaign is “capitalizing on the energy” of the moment, and has no set end-date in sight.

“The energy you get from a launch like this propels you forward, and this is really going to help inspire donors,” Grabowski said.

In the last week, the university secured five individual donations of $1 million or more, Grabowski said.

In the past, UB has struggled with fundraising efforts. In 2015, the school raised just $30 million, while similar peer institutions brought in an average of $173 million, The Buffalo News reported in February.

Tripathi said the university has been making more of an effort in the last few years to engage its local alumni chapters, something it struggled with in the past.

The donors felt an “urgency” to contribute in anticipation of the announcement and were inspired by stories from students who have used donations to fund experiences such as study abroad and internships, according to Grabowski.

Money raised through the campaign would help offset growing expenses in the face of dwindling state support, a problem facing not just UB, but colleges and universities across the country.

The university does not have any signature projects or new capital projects currently planned, Grabowski said.

Tripathi was not able to say what percentage of the donations would go to student scholarships, but emphasized during his announcement that the campaign would benefit everyone in the university and greater Buffalo community. Student support would include improvements to facilities, classrooms, study abroad aid and more.

“It really depends on the donor’s intent. The goal is to talk about scholarships, ultimately benefiting out students,” Tripathi said. “We can’t tell [a donor] to give us money for something specific. We tell the donor what’s important to us and how we can make the institution better. … We always try to get them to give more towards students.”

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