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Campaign for Texas Goes Out with a Bang

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The Campaign for Texas, the state’s most ambitious nonprofit fundraising effort to date, concluded Aug. 31, topping its $3 billion goal by more than $115 million.

The $856 million that The University of Texas at Austin raised in the campaign’s final year is believed to set a new single-year record for higher-education fundraising in the state. Gifts to the eight-year campaign came from all 50 states and 97 countries.

“My heart is filled with thanks for every member of the Longhorn family — individuals, foundations, associations and corporations — who helped us,” said UT President Bill Powers.

The campaign, which drew more than 270,000 donors of gifts small and large, fueled a campus building boom and an influx of student and faculty talent. The campaign also raised money for pioneering research into matters ranging from the microscopic — designing cancer-fighting nanoparticles — to the vast — building the largest map of the universe ever created.

University leaders chose the $3 billion figure after studying what it would cost to implement the recommendations of the Commission of 125, a volunteer panel of more than 200 Texas and national leaders charged with outlining a vision for UT’s future. The panel’s 2004 report reiterated the 1876 Texas constitutional mandate for a “university of the first class,” recommending undergraduate curriculum reform and more demanding standards for leadership of academic departments and centers.

The campaign, which began its quiet phase in September 2006, faced challenges from the beginning. A month before the scheduled October 2008 public unveiling, Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston. Two days later the country’s fourth-largest investment bank filed for bankruptcy, triggering a national recession and a global financial crisis. University leaders announced the campaign as planned, saying they were in it for the long haul.

“The Campaign for Texas is an even greater achievement than the numbers convey because we succeeded during one of the worst economic times since the Great Depression,” campaign chair Kenny Jastrow said. “Thank you to our alumni and friends who had the vision and commitment to help the university we all love succeed.”

While the campaign had a goal in terms of dollars, its purpose was bigger than money. Focusing on its core resources — students, faculty, facilities, and programs and research — the university set out to change the world. Here are some of the accomplishments made possible by the Campaign for Texas.


Donations to the Campaign for Texas have created myriad new opportunities to help more students reach their full potential:

  • The undergraduate experience has been transformed through a revamped core curriculum, first-year interest groups, and signature courses.
  • Remarkable new donor-funded scholarships include the Forty Acres Scholars Program, a full-ride scholarship dedicated to attracting the nation’s best students, and the Opportunity Scholars fund, an innovative endowment that began with a gift from a faculty member to help students obtain a degree without going into debt.


UT faculty members are doing amazing things every day with support from the Campaign for Texas:

  • Astrophysics professor Karl Gebhardt and his colleagues are helping lead the quest to understand dark energy. Working on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX), Gebhardt’s team is collecting data on a million galaxies to build the largest map of the universe ever created — a map that could change how we understand the laws of physics, even gravity.
  • Nutritional science professor Molly Bray, a nationally recognized expert on the genetics of obesity and exercise response, focuses on the relationship between weight and lifestyle factors to explore what makes it difficult for some people to maintain a diet and exercise regimen.
  • Biomedical engineering professor James Tunnell is fighting cancer, working to design gold nanoparticles that can be injected into the bloodstream, seek out, attach themselves to and kill cancer cells while leaving nearby healthy cells unharmed.


The Campaign for Texas has helped change the landscape of the Forty Acres, and each new facility is designed first and foremost to enhance learning and the student experience. Modern facilities that incorporate the latest technology cater to the way today’s students learn, with increased space for hands-on learning and collaboration.

  • New buildings completed during the campaign include the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, the Moody College of Communication’s Belo Center for New Media, the Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex, which includes Dell Computer Science Hall, the Dell Pediatric Research Institute and the Liberal Arts Building, among others.
  • The Dell Medical School complex is currently under construction on the southeastern edge of campus.
  • Two additional buildings — the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Engineering Education and Research Center and the McCombs School of Business’ Rowling Hall — are expected to open in 2017.

Programs and research

As a research university, UT makes groundbreaking discoveries that improve our quality of life, many with help from the Campaign for Texas:

  • The Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) in the College of Natural Sciences is turning the traditional university research model on its head, placing about 750 first-year students per year in faculty labs where they conduct cutting-edge research usually reserved for upperclassmen and graduate students.
  • Of course, freshman research is only part of the vast UT research enterprise. All over campus, researchers from freshmen to graduate students to faculty are breeding innovation across disciplines. And in two years, the impact of UT research will expand even further with the opening of Dell Medical School.


Thank you

What starts here changes the world. And it started with you. Thank you.

The Campaign for Texas was the work of a community, the Longhorn Nation. From the smallest gifts to the largest, each donor chose to invest in the future by supporting The University of Texas at Austin. Students, friends, alumni, faculty and staff participated by making the gifts that were most meaningful to them. Whether $5, $500 or $50 million, every gift has made a difference.

However you chose to give, thank you. We hope you’ll stay with us for the next exciting phase: realizing the dream of the Campaign for Texas.

The campaign laid the foundation. Now the hard work begins. Are you in?

Check out the slideshow for a snapshot of the university’s achievements over the past eight years.

[slideshow gallery_id="4"]

Click on the image to see more results from the campaign.

End of Campaign infographic

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