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Student scholarships are the top-dollar priority of UNCG's $200 million fundraising campaign

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GREENSBORO — Student scholarships are the top-dollar priority of the comprehensive fundraising campaign that UNCG announced Tuesday.

The campaign’s goal is to raise $200 million by 2025, with half of that slotted for scholarships.

Over the past five years, the campaign operated in a “quiet” phase that brought in more than $113.6 million toward the $200 million goal. The school kicked off the “public” stage of the campaign with an an emailed announcement and a celebration in the Cone Ballroom of the Elliott University Center on Tuesday.

More than 18,000 people have contributed. Vice Chancellor of University Advancement Beth Fischer explained UNCG used a common strategy of reaching out to key constituents first, including prior top donors. The idea is for their contributions to inspire giving from the broader local community and from UNCG’s alumni during the second phase.

“I’m a big believer in the success-begets-success motto,” she said.

Tuesday’s announcement is a long time coming for the university. The school completed its last comprehensive campaign, which raised more than $115 million, in 2009.

Randall Kaplan, a co-chair of the current campaign, said the school delayed starting another campaign, in part due to the lingering fallout out of the 2008 global financial crisis, which was an impediment to getting much from donors.

While the campaign did get underway quietly in 2016, Kaplan said leaders had hoped to kickoff the public portion last fall. They delayed it another year, hoping for an easing of the pandemic.

Susan Safran, the other co-chair, laid out the three key ambitions of the “Light the Way” campaign.

First, she said, is improving access. That means scholarships for students most in need and aid to students from middle-class families, as well merit-based scholarships for high academic achievers.

UNCG has already raised nearly $48.5 million of its $100 million goal for this category.

Second, she said is increasing excellence. Specifically, this refers to funding endowed professorships at UNCG.

Fischer explained that the state of North Carolina typically pays professors for about nine months of work per year. Endowing a professorship allows the university to offer an additional salary stipend for the summer, plus extra money for other benefits such as research, travel and books.

Endowed professorships are considered very prestigious, she said, so it’s a key strategy for the university to attract top professor talent.

The university has raised nearly $5.7 million for endowing professorships, just scratching the surface of its ultimate goal of $40 million for this purpose.

The third ambition in the comprehensive plan, Safran said, is expanding the school’s impact. That turns out to be a broad category of goals within the campaign, including establishing new academic programs, investing in research and supporting athletics and the arts.

The university already has raised nearly all the money it seeks for this part of the plan: more than $59.5 million of a $60 million goal, leaving a little over $400,000 remaining.

Kaplan said he expects to raise even more than $200 million by 2025.

“We as a community must support this university,” he said. “It’s educating bright and talented students who may not have opportunity without having the scholarship programs and other things, the money we are trying to raise in this campaign.”

Contact Jessie Pounds at 336-373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.

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