The broader economy sputters on, but cash is gushing into the University of Texas at Austin at an unprecedented rate. On Monday the flagship institution announced that it had raised $302-million so far during the fiscal year that ends on August 31—an average of $1-million in gifts per business day. At the same point last year, it had raised $222-million.
The university is on pace to break its previous annual fund-raising record, of $366-million in 2008.
A substantial part of the current total derives from the flagship’s incipient medical school. In January the university announced that the computer magnate Michael Dell and his wife Susan had contributed $50-million through their foundation to establish the Dell Medical School, which is scheduled to enroll its first class in 2016. (The state’s higher-education coordinating board has suggested that Texas universities refrain from opening new medical schools until there are enough residency positions statewide to accommodate their graduates.)
Julie M. Hooper, associate vice president for development, says that while gifts of that size are uncommon in any fiscal year, “adding the medical school to the equation is helping tremendously” with fund raising over all. She goes so far as to call the new school “a game changer” for the institution.
That said, she adds that the university’s current fund-raising success stems from a concentrated effort by its development team, its deans, and President William C. Powers Jr.—or, as Ms. Hooper calls him, the “fund raiser in chief”—as part of a $3-billion campaign.
She also credits an increased focus on estate gifts by the development staff. The current $302-million total includes five estate gifts of $5-million or more; such planned gifts have increased by 150 since the last fiscal year.
A survey of college fund raisers, released in January by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, predicted that giving would rise by 5.8 percent in the 2013 calendar year.