Last February, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) announced the completion of "the most successful fund-raising campaign in the history of higher education, generating more than $3 billion"!
Campaign UCLA secured funding used to support cutting-edge research, provide student scholarships and fellowships, attract and retain top scholars in a wide range of academic disciplines, and enhance classroom, laboratory, health care and other facilities. The campaign benefited all sectors of UCLA — from the College of Letters and Science to the 11 professional schools, from physical and life sciences to social sciences and humanities, from law and medicine to engineering and the arts, and from libraries to UCLA Extension.
Now, Columbia University is getting ready to launch an even bigger campaign, whose goal is to raise $4 billion! Not just that, this NYTimes report starts with two other ambitious fund-raising efforts:
The University of Virginia will announce a $3 billion fund-raising drive in the fall. New York University is in the middle of a $2.5 billion campaign.
Note that at least two of the institutions are public universities. And, of course, the mother of them all, Harvard, has an endowment whose corpus exceeds $25 billion.
In a post back in November of 2005, I wrote:
I am sure there are still many people who would be willing to donate big money to the corpus funds of higher ed institutions -- IIMs and IITs in particular. A corpus of some 1000 crore (10 billion) rupees should be quite easy to build in a short time for an IIT if it makes a concerted effort; such a corpus would help it become financially independent. In principle, the government can either reduce or even stop its funding of those institutions with big corpus funds, and use the money thus saved to create new IITs, IIMs and so on.
This grouse is still valid. I am sure there are tons of people who would be willing to donate to our universities, colleges and institutions. I am also sure that some of the contributions are likely to be quite big. While our private institutions (including those run by charitable trusts) make an effort to raise funds [not much data is available in the public domain, though], our public institutions are prevented from building their corpus funds to beyond a certain limit which, for IITs (for example), is Rs. 100 crores -- about $22 million.
This is a big opportunity that our society is missing out on.