Record $3.378 billion in gifts, commitments raised in Washington University’s Leading Together campaign

Resources will advance university’s mission of improving lives through teaching, research, service

Brookings Hall
Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University ended June 30 with a record-breaking $3.378 billion in gifts and commitments. (Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University, a major multiyear fundraising initiative with an initial goal of $2.2 billion in funding toward university priorities, ended June 30 with a record-breaking $3.378 billion in gifts and commitments, announced Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

The campaign total includes an unprecedented $591 million for scholarships to enhance affordability and accessibility for outstanding students.

In announcing the campaign’s successful completion, Wrighton expressed his gratitude to the donors who are helping advance the university’s mission.

“Washington University is extraordinarily fortunate to have some of the most loyal and forward-looking supporters in academic life today,” Wrighton said. “This historic initiative was conceived and planned by dedicated leaders and volunteers and realized by generous donors who made gifts of all sizes in order to advance our work to improve lives through teaching, research and service.

Mark Wrighton and Andy Taylor
Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton (left) and Andrew C. Taylor, Leading Together chair, helped guide the campaign to its successful conclusion. (Photo: Mark Katzman/Washington University)

“I am profoundly grateful to all who participated in the campaign. I extend special thanks to Andy Taylor, who chaired the campaign’s public phase, for his tremendous leadership,” Wrighton added.

Leading Together was launched to secure the resources needed to implement priorities identified in the Plan for Excellence. The campaign focused on the development of four key areas: preparing the leaders of tomorrow; advancing human health; inspiring innovation and entrepreneurship; and enhancing the quality of life for all.

In addition to $591 million for scholarships, this historic initiative resulted in:

  • 153 new endowed deanships, professorships and other positions to attract and retain outstanding faculty and leaders;
  • $1.502 billion for academic programs to further critical programs and advance powerful research;
  • $311 million for facilities to support collaborative, cutting-edge work; and
  • $297 million for the Annual Fund to provide deans and the chancellor with flexible funds to address urgent needs.

Of the above, $1.264 billion in campaign gifts and commitments went to the university’s endowment.

The Plan for Excellence began in 2006, when deans and other leaders came together to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to enable the university and its schools and units to grow in quality and impact.

In 2009, at the conclusion of the Plan for Excellence process, trustees and university leaders estimated that implementing the plan’s initial objectives would require a minimum of $3.7 billion, an amount that was later increased. They called for resources and efforts to advance an overarching goal for the university: “to enhance our leadership today to benefit America and the world tomorrow.”

From plan to reality

Life Trustees John F. McDonnell, retired chairman of the board of McDonnell Douglas Corp., and Sam Fox, former U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and founder and retired chairman and CEO of Harbour Group Ltd., guided the campaign’s initial leadership phase, which raised more than $1 billion between March 2009 and October 2012.

“The campaign’s quiet phase provided a critical foundation for the efforts that followed,” said Wrighton, who also led the university through The Campaign for Washington University, which ended successfully in 2004 with $1.55 billion in gifts and commitments, a university record at the time. “I am grateful to John and Sam for their vision and energy in leading the charge.”

David T. Blasingame, executive vice chancellor for alumni and development programs, led the Alumni and Development staff during both campaigns.

Leading Together was publicly announced Oct. 6, 2012, with a June 30, 2018, end date, at a kickoff event that attracted more than 1,000 members of the university community. That event was followed by regional campaign events across the country.

In 2015, when the campaign total neared its initial minimum goal of $2.2 billion more than two years ahead of schedule, the university’s Board of Trustees approved a new goal of $2.5 billion. Leading Together concluded this June with gifts and commitments of $3,378,363,498.

“Although the campaign’s objectives were ambitious, I was confident that our trustees, alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff would rise to the challenge,” said public phase chair Andrew C. Taylor, a Washington University life trustee and executive chairman of St. Louis-based Enterprise Holdings. “Now, at the close of the campaign, I am extremely grateful to all who made this milestone possible. Their generosity is having a positive, lasting impact by providing opportunities for talented students, advancing scholarly research and creative potential, enhancing our world-class faculty, and making impressive strides toward a healthier and more sustainable world.”

A community effort

Leading Together attracted unprecedented support from nearly 160,000 alumni, parents and friends of Washington University. More than 600 campaign committee volunteers in St. Louis and in cities across the United States and worldwide assisted in the effort.

Donors in St. Louis enhanced their already remarkable tradition of generosity to the institution, while regional efforts outside of St. Louis led to gifts and commitments that more than doubled the total raised in the last campaign.

“The success of Leading Together bears witness to Washington University’s truly exceptional community, which came together to ensure the university’s continued ascent,” Taylor added. “It is an honor to have been a part of a historic effort to provide a strong foundation for the future.”

Among the major contributors to the campaign were:

  • alumni, who gave $1.115 billion;
  • foundations, contributing $987 million;
  • friends, contributing $622 million;
  • corporations, contributing $306 million;
  • other groups and agencies, contributing $194 million; and
  • parents of students, who gave $153 million.

campaign graphAlso among those contributing were 8,384 current and former faculty and staff members who contributed more than $65 million.

When the faculty and staff component of the campaign launched, Wrighton expressed gratitude to his colleagues for their participation and the impact of their contributions. “All gifts from our faculty and staff, at whatever financial level, help move us toward our goal of making Washington University a better place,” he said. “I am thankful to my many Washington University colleagues who went above and beyond their significant professional contributions by providing financial support as well.

“I know that donors outside the university were inspired to join in this important effort when they heard that our own employees supported our mission and vision enough to make financial contributions.”

Leading Together’s impact

“In the years since the campaign began, we have seen an extraordinary impact on campus and beyond,” Taylor said. “Not only are we defining and reaching new heights in research and scholarship, we also are preparing students from diverse backgrounds to serve as leaders in their professions and in their communities. The benefit to our region, our nation and our world is exceptional.”

Campaign resources already have had a significant impact in the following areas:

  • Scholarships and student support

The Plan for Excellence identified an institutional need of $1 billion in added scholarship support, which has only grown since the plan was completed.

Donors supporting scholarships and fellowships during Leading Together made gifts and commitments totaling $591 million. Giving challenges such as the McDonnell Scholarship Challenge and the Taylor Family Scholarship Challenge inspired many to support scholarships and fellowships for qualified students who aspire to attend Washington University.

To read about how Washington University’s scholarships have made a difference in the lives of five current and past students, visit the Source.

  • Endowed positions

Building on a tradition that began in 1856, Leading Together sought to significantly enhance faculty support through endowed professorships.

Donors extended the scope of endowed positions at the university during the campaign, establishing the university’s first named deanships. Professorships have been endowed in every school, with deanships given or committed in the School of Medicine, the Brown School, the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and University College in Arts & Sciences.

Donors also endowed directorships in the Institute for Public Health, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum and the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, as well as the head coaching position for the men’s soccer team.

  • Academic programs

Donors have contributed funds to advance academic departments, initiatives in innovation and entrepreneurship, and research with the power to dramatically improve the quality of life in communities around the globe.

During the campaign, donors made commitments to create and enhance numerous named centers and institutes on the Danforth and Medical campuses. These hubs for interdisciplinary activity accelerate the progress of university priorities in research, teaching and learning, and patient care. For example, several centers and institutes established on the Medical Campus support the School of Medicine’s personalized medicine initiative, a comprehensive strategy designed to fully leverage the school’s strengths as a research and treatment enterprise and as a genomics pioneer.

  • Facilities

During Leading Together, the university’s physical plant has been expanded and strengthened with new construction and renovations. These state-of-the-art facilities give students an educational experience of the highest quality and make possible some of the best research and scholarship in the world.

Buildings completed during Leading Together support critical areas such as social work, business and engineering. The campaign also enabled the launch of the east end transformation, an initiative to strengthen interdisciplinary ties and provide cutting-edge learning and research environments.

  • Annual Fund

The Annual Fund provides critical resources that can be used immediately and flexibly to respond to the most urgent needs of students, faculty and programs.

Of the nearly 160,000 donors to Leading Together, more than 130,000 gave to the Annual Fund, contributing unrestricted support to enable the chancellor and deans to address such areas as emergency financial aid, faculty support and technology upgrades.

Shaping the future

“Leading Together will be remembered for generations as the catalyst for unprecedented progress at Washington University and the communities we serve in St. Louis and beyond,” Taylor said. “And it could not have happened without the generosity of and guidance from our university community.”

Wrighton said, “Throughout the past century and a half, Washington University has had a greater impact on society than many would have believed possible. In each era of our history, visionary alumni and friends have stepped forward to help us meet the world’s evolving needs, committing resources to fuel our continued service.

“The work of a great university is never done,” Wrighton continued, “and we now look ahead to the challenges and opportunities before us with a renewed sense of purpose and optimism. In addition to the profound impact campaign funds already are having, Leading Together is providing for Washington University’s next era of academic excellence.”