Robert J. Zimmer

President Robert J. Zimmer. (Photography by Jason Smith)

Investing in Inquiry and Impact

The most ambitious and comprehensive campaign in the University’s history exceeded its goals and laid a strong foundation for the future.

We launched the University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact—the most ambitious and comprehensive campaign in University history—with the goal of engaging our full community in support of the University’s aspirations, built upon the foundation of our distinctive and enduring values.

Thanks to the dedication of that community, I am pleased to announce that the campaign exceeded our ambitious goals and helped lay a strong foundation for the University’s future. Through the end of 2019, the campaign raised $5.43 billion, surpassing both our original target of $4.5 billion and our expanded $5 billion goal.

The University also announced a public goal to engage 125,000 of our alumni by 2019. During the campaign over 134,000—more than 70 percent—of our 182,000 alumni engaged with the University.

Today and throughout its history, the University of Chicago has benefited from committed volunteers and generous philanthropic supporters. Their investments in research, education, and impact reflect a shared commitment to the University and its enduring values of intellectual challenge, diversity of background and perspectives, and freedom of expression.

I want to express my deep appreciation to our faculty, students, alumni, parents, friends, staff, and trustees. Your investment supports scholars who challenge assumptions, continually push boundaries, define new fields of study, and have profound impact—whether in understanding the natural world through science, engineering, and medicine; our social structures through the social science disciplines, law, business, policy, education, and study of and impact on urban environments; or through analyzing cultures and the creation of meaning through the humanities, arts, and the academic study of religion. Importantly, faculty are also pursuing understanding across these traditional boundaries. At the same time, working together with students, they provide a transformative education, one that develops in students the intellectual skills and habits of mind to enable them to confront complex problems across the range of human endeavor.

Critical to this campaign has been a focus on expanded financial support for students. The basis for this focus was a deep commitment to making the University’s education available to those who could most benefit from and contribute to our singularly rigorous intellectual environment independent of their family’s financial situation. Central to this effort was the University’s flagship Odyssey Program, which started with an anonymous gift and which we were able to systematically increase in scope thanks to sustained philanthropy for its goals. Because of this cascade of gifts, we are now able to meet domestic College students’ full financial need with no debt expectations for them or their families. We have also received many gifts that have dramatically increased our capacity to offer financial aid to international College students. Professional student scholarships and significantly expanded funding for doctoral students have supported the University’s effort to bring the highest caliber of students to campus independent of background and need, and to support their work. About $800 million was raised to support these enhancements to financial support for our students. The campaign has also enabled us to dramatically expand careers programs that allow the University to provide a broad array of experiences and opportunities that help students connect their distinctive University of Chicago education to their future life.

Likewise, support for facilities and activities of global engagement, particularly through our centers and campuses in Beijing, Hong Kong, Delhi, Paris, and London and in programs across the world; for our commitment to the city of Chicago and the South Side; and for the enhancement of the University as an intellectual destination has been critical as a foundation for the University’s expanding reach in education, research, and impact.

There is of course much more to do in the future. But the results of this campaign make evident the enthusiastic support of the University of Chicago community. I am deeply grateful for your generosity and commitment. Your collective investment in the University lays the foundation for supporting our highest aspirations now and in the coming decades—in transformative discoveries and approaches, a deeply empowering education, and impact on enriching human life—in Chicago, across the nation, and around the world. Thank you.