8, 2003 — Robert D. Sweeney, the University’s vice
president for development and public affairs, came to Thursday’s
meeting to offer both an invitation and a challenge.
In the course of 30 minutes, he asked Senate members to become partners
in the upcoming capital campaign – aimed at what may be a
$3 billion goal — and to help the University set its sights
on becoming “one of the most important institutions in American
real connection is when we get that prospective donor into
a lab, sitting one-on-one with a faculty member, hearing an
aspiration for a cure … or a research opportunity that
might actually be the creation of knowledge.”
— Robert D. Sweeney
Senior Vice President for Development
is the faculty, Sweeney said, who best convey the powerful story
of the University, its needs and its aspirations. And he urged each
of them to build relationships with development officers in their
schools, educating them on research and initiatives that deserve
support. He also nudged them to begin to think about former students
who may want to invest in the University’s future.
“The real connection,” Sweeney said, “is when
we get that prospective donor into a lab, sitting one-on-one with
a faculty member, hearing an aspiration for a cure … or a
research opportunity that might actually be the creation of knowledge.”
Sweeney, a leader in the University’s last campaign, which
raised a record $1.43 billion, said the next campaign, due to run
from 2006 through 2011, would again set U.Va. apart from its peer
public institutions and that it would be among a handful of universities
in the country setting such an aggressive goal.
“This is not for the timid,” he warned. “To make
the next goal we will have to raise $1,027,397 a day.” For
Sweeney and the University, the clock starts ticking on Jan. 1,
2004 with the launch of the campaign’s silent phase, and will
not stop until Dec. 31, 2011.
“The time is now,” he said, “and the choice is
extraordinarily clear.” Without this effort, Sweeney believes,
the University would be in danger of falling from its current national
prominence to become merely an important regional institution.
Ten to 15 percent of the campaign will be aimed at pan-University
needs, including graduate training and fellowships, undergraduate
research, science and technology, and the arts. The University also
will seek support to attract and retain stellar faculty.
Sweeney predicts that the strong University performers from the
last campaign, such as the Law
and Darden schools and Athletics,
will again fare well, but other schools, such as Curry,
Engineering and the
will be major players.
To achieve success, Sweeney said U.Va. will have to create a private
philanthropy model that looks more like those at Stanford, Duke,
MIT and the Ivy Leagues, than at other public universities.
already has reached the elite rankings in its funding program, landing
in the highest tiers among publics, and ranking between No. 8 and
No. 12 among the top 15 privates,” Sweeney said. “We
have managed to do in 15 years what many schools have taken a century
“We are now in the game among the most important American
institutions of the next generation. The question is: Do we have
a program that can change the course of public education?”
Sweeney reminded faculty members that money is not the only focus
of the campaign – it is the transformation of the University
that the fund raising will help support. “If we simply look
at the numbers in this next campaign, I believe that we have failed,”
he said. “Our work together is … really about creating
a new University of Virginia. And that means that the new University
of Virginia will be a new model for American education.”
Some faculty expressed concern that donors would seek to dictate
key programmatic and policy decisions. University
President John T. Casteen III assured them this was an issue
that often was discussed and that the administration was sensitive
to such concerns.