Photo by Steve Cohn

As our historic Campaign for USC advances, I recently announced a significant milestone in our journey, one that only five other universities have achieved in the history of higher education: USC has surpassed the $4 billion fundraising mark.

Among all colleges and universities in our nation, only Harvard, Cornell, Columbia and Stanford universities and the University of Pennsylvania have accomplished this, and what is even more remarkable is that we achieved this milestone in just four and a half years. Last month, in addressing our faculty, I shared this news with great pride and gratitude, as it represents the collective efforts and dedication of the entire Trojan Family, with gifts coming from every corner of the world and every constituent group in our community.

USC now has surpassed the $4 billion fundraising mark in its campaign.

More important than the money raised, though, is how this success benefits academic excellence at USC and how this excellence in turn benefits all of society. Each gift makes a difference! Of the $4 billion, $1.4 billion was directed to our university endowment, including student scholarships and student aid. In the last four and a half years alone, this endowment has allowed us to create 77 new faculty chairs.

Additionally, of the money raised, $2.1 billion has advanced other academic priorities, comprising faculty research programs, research institutes, school-based programs and the medical enterprise, including pediatric research and care. The campaign has also increased funds for student scholarships, services and residential life, as well as innovative teaching programs. Finally, of the $4 billion, $500 million has supported building construction.

These successes, however, would not be possible without our trustees, who have led the way with their singular generosity, along with our dedicated alumni and parents. Collectively, our trustees have given a total of $1.12 billion to our campaign. Their philanthropic leadership has inspired others to support USC, and they have been ardent ambassadors on the fundraising trail.

Participation among our undergraduate alumni stands at 37 percent, which places us significantly ahead of a number of our peer institutions, including Stanford, Columbia, Cornell and UCLA. Just as important, we continue to see dramatic increases in the number of undergraduate alumni donors stepping up to support their alma mater. In fact, in the past three years alone, participation among this group has risen almost 30 percent!

As further points of pride, 60 percent of the money raised has come from non-alumni, and USC Athletics has raised nearly $280 million during this campaign, thereby achieving its most successful fundraising ever—all against the backdrop of NCAA sanctions. This speaks to the tremendous power of the Trojan spirit and the abiding sense that our community always stands together. Niki and I feel this support every time we shake the hand of a Trojan—whether we’re outside the United States at one of our global conferences, on the East Coast for an alumni event or right here on campus at a football game.

I would like to conclude with a word of caution. As we celebrate our accomplishment, and as we work toward our larger goal of $6 billion, I must emphasize that now is not the time to become complacent. We still have $2 billion left to raise, and the final stretch of any campaign is always the most difficult. Our deans have done an outstanding job inspiring their schools’ communities, and I would like to warmly commend their exceptional efforts and the enormous support you have shown them. You play a critical role in this campaign’s success.

Moving forward, we must redouble our efforts and remind ourselves of our mission. In a very real way, our campaign advances academic excellence that touches all sectors of society and improves lives, while cementing USC’s position among the world’s top research universities.

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