Stanford Challenge raises $6.2 billion

Feb. 8, 2012, 3:04 a.m.

Stanford University announced the conclusion of The Stanford Challenge (TSC), its five-year fundraising initiative, Wednesday. The project, a comprehensive fundraising push that raised $6.2 billion in pledges for the University, aimed to broadly improve the Stanford educational experience and better prepare future leaders.


TSC provided funding for 130 new faculty positions, 360 graduate fellowships, $1.5 billion worth of facility construction and improvement and over $250 million in need-based financial aid for undergraduates, according to a press release.


In addition, over 38 buildings were added or improved on Stanford campuses as part of the initiative — including the Huang Engineering Center, Arrillaga Dining Commons, Knight Management Center and the Stanford Center at Peking University in Beijing.


“The response from the extended Stanford family was tremendous,” University President John Hennessy said in a press release. “This was a community joining together for something they believe in.”


Martin Shell, vice president of the Office of Development at Stanford, said the idea for TSC came together not long after Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ‘82 took office.


Combining efforts with faculty members, administrators “identified a variety of important needs and potential new initiatives, refined them into a set of overarching principles and began to determine what it would take to fund them,” Shell said. While at first these served as wish lists, funding soon came pouring in.


The original goal of raising $4.3 billion was easily met by the University, much of it through large donations from alumni. Most of the money came from donations totaling over $1 million — donations typically earmarked for specific projects.


“Historically, you don’t see multi-million dollar, unrestricted gifts,” Shell said. “That’s pretty uncommon.”


While $1.5 billion was donated for facility improvement, one sixth of that amount — 253.7 million — was donated to supplement need-based financial aid.


The TSC press release stated that before 2006, 40 percent of Stanford students were on financial aid from the University, while now 80 percent receive aid from Stanford “and other sources.”


However, Rebecca Vogel, assistant vice president for the Office of Development, noted that these statistics are “comparing apples and oranges.” Only 49 percent of students currently receive need-based financial aid from Stanford, a figure 9 percent higher than before TSC.


Funding from TSC created many of the institutes on campus, such as the Woods Institute for the Environment, the Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency and the Tomkat Center for Sustainable Energy. The institutes are part of the University’s recent push for interdisciplinary research.


The arts also received a boost from TSC, with significant gifts and funding going toward the creation of an “arts district” on campus near the Cantor Arts Center. The Bing Concert Hall, Anderson Collection at Stanford University and the McMurtry Building will be located on the northeast side of the Oval.


The McMurtry Building will accommodate the art and art history departments at Stanford when it opens in 2015.  Although the Bing Concert Hall has also not yet been completed, it is scheduled to open for public performances at the start of 2013.


Brendan is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. Previously he was the executive editor, the deputy editor, a news desk editor and a writer for the news section. He's a history major originally from New Orleans.

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