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Campaign Emory nears historic goal

A Q&A with Susan Cruse, senior vice president of development and alumni relations. Emory Photo/Video.

EDITOR'S NOTE: As of Sept. 4, Campaign Emory had raised over $1.5 billion toward its $1.6 billion campaign goal.

When Campaign Emory publicly launched in September 2008, it represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the University's history — a $1.6 billion campaign designed to help strengthen faculty and students, enhance programs and facilities, and create new opportunities by fueling Emory's strategic plan.

With just a few months to go before the conclusion of Campaign Emory on Dec. 31, the University is closing in on that historic goal. We asked Susan Cruse, senior vice president of development and alumni relations, to reflect upon the progress:

Where are we now with Campaign Emory and what will you and your team be focusing on over the next few months?

We're at $1.48 billion — about 93 percent — which is wonderful. But it's that last 7 percent that's always the hardest to raise. In the coming months, we'll be focused on those gifts that will make the most difference toward reaching our goal.

In discussing Emory's fiscal year 2013 budget, University leadership emphasize the need for ongoing philanthropic support. Does the campaign ever really end?

The need for philanthropy does not end. A commitment to private support is essential to achieving our mission. Things change; new priorities and needs and opportunities emerge. When we were setting our campaign goal, Emory academic leadership identified over $3 billion in priorities — twice our goal. New needs are always there, because we can always be better, we can always do more.

The University is on the verge of successfully completing the most ambitious campaign in Emory's history, and we maintain a healthy endowment — yet we continue to emphasize the need for cost efficiencies.  How do we reconcile being successful with the campaign yet facing real financial constraints in other areas of the University's operation?

Increasingly, donors are very specific about how they direct their gifts. A large percentage of our campaign has been designated to building needs on campus. About 55 percent of the money has come in as expendable dollars that have or are in the process of being spent on programs, scholarships, whatever the donor has elected to support. Only about 6 percent of our dollars are unrestricted, which is fairly typical among our peer universities. The campaign has allowed us to provide some measure of excellence, but it certainly has not addressed all the financial needs of the institution.

MyEmory offers a way for faculty, staff and retirees to advance the University's work in creative ways that matter most to them. The MyEmory campaign includes both targeted and unrestricted gifts. What are some examples?

The MyEmory campaign has been one of the biggest successes of this campaign — more than $98 million has come from our faculty and staff. This is tremendous, not only because of their generosity, but it shows our stakeholders that we live and breathe Emory. We're not only working here, we're investing back in the institution.

Some people will support areas where they work, many will divide their gifts. For example, an Oxford chemistry professor passionate about helping Oxford students made scholarship gifts. At Emory Healthcare, oncology nurses give to improve the care of patients and families.

Campaign Emory has promoted opportunities for "transformational giving."  Has this campaign transformed Emory in significant ways?

It has. A campaign isn't a magical thing, but it helps galvanize academic leadership around a vision. From that, big ideas come. And it's the big ideas that encourage big investment. The most visible sign of transformation are new programs, new endowed chairs and building and renovation projects. For philanthropy to help accelerate what we bring to the table is very, very valuable.

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