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Gifts, pledges to Pitt exceed $1.5 billion

| Friday, Sept. 10, 2010

The University of Pittsburgh has collected more than $1.5 billion in gifts and pledges since 1996, and remains on track to hit its $2 billion goal, officials announced Thursday.

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg touted the "Building Our Future Together" campaign as the largest and most successful in Western Pennsylvania, beginning with a $500 million goal and increasing to $1 billion in 2002 and $2 billion in 2006.

"The trustees thought things were going so well, so they doubled the (original) goal to $1 billion. Then we got the same results, so they doubled it again," said Albert Novak, Jr., vice chancellor for institutional advancement.

Pitt has used the money to fund 458 new scholarships, 39 faculty fellowships, and 672 endowment programs for supporting research projects, travel, book purchases and more. Some went toward $1.14 billion in construction that added or renovated more than 2 million square feet of space.

More than 158,000 people have contributed to the campaign, including 275 who committed $1 million or more, officials said.

Since 2006, the campaign has made raising money for scholarships a priority, Novak said. The amount raised for scholarships went from $5.5 million in 1998 to $22 million in 2007.

After a slight drop in 2009 that Novak attributed to the faltering economy, fiscal year 2010 ended with $20.5 million collected toward scholarship endowments.

"When we first started out, a lot of our support was from Western Pennsylvania-based foundations," he said. "Part of it is the maturing of our campaign and outreach efforts. ... Over time, we've had more individuals step up to support us."

Novak said he couldn't say when the $2 billion goal might be met, because that could depend on how the economy and charitable giving recover. Once the fund reaches $2 billion, the university will wind down the campaign and start planning the next one, he said.

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