Schoolchildren, medical patients, farmers, seniors, entrepreneurs, parents, consumers and first-generation college students are just some of the people whose lives and livelihoods will be enhanced because of the University of Florida’s eight-year Go Greater campaign, which was celebrated this weekend with two months remaining before its official conclusion.
More than 620,000 Gators made contributions totaling over $4.5 billion during the campaign, significantly more than the original $3 billion goal. Go Greater’s grand total is the fifth-largest ever raised at a public university, the largest in the history of the state of Florida and the highest among SEC schools. It is the fourth campaign in UF’s 169-year history.
Capping the campaign was this year’s record-smashing fundraising. Gators invested more than $700 million in UF’s projects and programs during the last 12 months, and a new partnership with Scripps Research pushed the year’s final tally to $1 billion.
When it launched in 2014, Go Greater was one of the most ambitious campaigns ever for a public university. Funds raised during the campaign support scholarships and student programs, professors and groundbreaking research, life-improving initiatives and campus infrastructure.
In all, Go Greater garnered almost 1 million unique gifts, while UF’s annual alumni giving rate — a major factor when calculating overall rankings — climbed to 20%, one of the highest in academia. Along the way, UF’s donors established almost 200 new endowed faculty positions, added 600 scholarships and created 15 new teaching and learning centers.
As a result, the University of Florida is positioned to address things that are important to Floridians and others around the world: health care, energy and sustainability; climate change and biodiversity; economies, entrepreneurship and innovation.
Go Greater’s overwhelming success is a major factor in UF’s unprecedented rise in national rankings — from No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of best public universities in 2014, when the campaign began, to No. 5 now.
“Years from now when people look back on this chapter in UF’s story, a highlight will be the Gator Nation’s extraordinary generosity and far-sightedness,” UF President Kent Fuchs said. “Alumni and friends from around the world came together like never before to support discoveries and innovations that will change the world, and to ensure that those educated on our campus will be the leaders of tomorrow.”
Among the campaign’s notable gifts:
- The integration of Scripps Research’s Florida campus into UF Health. The new partnership is accelerating the pace of biomedical discoveries.
- Al and Judy Warrington’s leadership gift in 2014 to kick off the Go Greater campaign. At the time, their pledge was the single largest gift in UF history.
- Herbie and Nicole Wertheim’s investment in the College of Engineering to launch a $300 million initiative that is revolutionizing engineering education and research. Their gift was the catalyst for the largest expansion in the college’s 100-year history. In recognition, the college was renamed in Herbie Wertheim’s honor.
- Chris and Melody Malachowsky’s pledge to make UF a global leader in artificial intelligence innovation and training. Their investment named the campus Data Science and Information Technology building and is helping to integrate AI into teaching and research across academic majors to solve society’s most formidable challenges.
- Elisabeth DeLuca’s gift of 27,000 acres of pristine land in Osceola County is protecting one of the last natural areas of its kind and serves as a living classroom and laboratory. It is among the largest gifts of real estate ever to any university in the nation and includes cattle ranchlands, a citrus grove, ponds and forests.
- Bill Heavener’s leadership gift for UF’s new $85 million football training center, named in his honor. The 142,000-square-foot center includes meeting rooms, a strength-and-conditioning center, a dining hall and recreation space for student-athletes.
“Make no mistake, lives and communities everywhere are improved because of the work done at the University of Florida. Much of that work is only possible because of the caring people who support our university’s bold mission,” said Anita Zucker, chair of the UF Foundation’s executive board. “It’s because of their generosity — so amazingly illustrated through this year’s record-breaking giving — that we know our university will forever be a beacon of hope for people around the world.”