Published: April 26, 2011

On April 25, University of Colorado President Bruce Benson today announced Creating Futures, a $1.5 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign, the most ambitious in university history, which will benefit people, programs and places across CU’s four campuses.

The university has raised more than $900 million since the silent phase of the campaign began in July 2006. Major fundraising campaigns typically conduct a silent phase to build momentum and engage key constituents. The public phase will continue until the goal is reached.

Benson and his wife, Marcy, will chair the campaign, the second they have led at CU. They chaired the successful Beyond Boundaries campaign, which raised $1 billion from 1997-2003. The primary focus of Creating Futures will be:

  • funding scholarships
  • providing faculty and program enhancements through endowments and direct gifts
  • facility upgrades and buildings
  • research activities supported by private funding

“CU is an outstanding university and we intend to build on its greatness with the support of alumni, friends and organizations that will help us add value to our academic and research endeavors,” Benson said. “This campaign will enable CU to continue to provide students with access to a world-class education and allow the university to augment its role as an economic driver and jobs creator that advances the economy, health and culture of Colorado and beyond.”

Benson stressed that while private contributions to the university will augment its activities, they will not make up for steep declines in state funding (which pay for university operations such as compensation, utilities and technology, among others) since more than 98 percent of contributions are earmarked by donors. Restricted gifts cannot support the daily operations of the university.

“We cannot divert restricted gifts to operations, but contributions can add value to our academic and research activities,” Benson said.

In Creating Futures, CU will focus on generating private support for what it calls its four pillars of excellence and impact, which encompass all the university’s activities: learning and teaching, discovery and innovation, community and culture, and health and wellness. Priorities have been determined through strategic planning directed by university and campus leadership. Many projects are cooperative efforts among several CU campuses.

While there is no universally recognized standard by which universities count private campaign support, CU reviewed standards at peer universities and assessed best practices to establish standards that fairly gauge the progress of Creating Futures. Funds counted toward the goal include private support and pledges made directly to the CU Foundation, as well as directly to the university. Campaign totals include private support received through CU’s Office of Contracts and Grants, consistent with counting protocols for other university campaigns, though historically these totals have not been included in CU’s annual fundraising totals.

Many planned gifts are not realized until a future point in time (such as bequests, which are realized after a donor’s death). While such commitments are tracked by the CU Foundation to help gauge future revenue streams, revocable planned estate gifts such as bequest intentions and IRA beneficiary designations are not counted toward the Creating Futures campaign total.

The University of Colorado is a premier public research university with four campuses: the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Some 58,000 students are pursuing academic degrees at CU. Academic prestige is marked by the university’s four Nobel laureates, seven MacArthur “genius” Fellows, 18 alumni astronauts and 19 Rhodes Scholars.

To learn about how Creating Futures will impact the College of Music and how you can be involved, click here.