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UC President Santa Ono's letter

Campaign: 'Ambitious, monumental, staggering'

$1 billion from 100,000 unique donors puts UC in select company

We did it. We set a highly ambitious goal of raising $1 billion in philanthropic support, and we surpassed that mark a full five months before the campaign’s official endpoint of June 30, 2013.

This is a monumental achievement and not just because of one giant number. The real key to this milestone is not that we raised it, but how we did so — and the incredible impact it will have on our campus and out in the world.

I certainly don’t want to downplay that dollar figure because it puts us in some very select company. Fewer than 2 percent of all colleges and universities in the country have ever raised so much, and you can probably name several of them without trying: Stanford, UCLA, Berkeley, Michigan and Penn State. But here are some numbers that strike me as even more important.

First, 100,000 unique donors made this possible. Think about that. Even for a place with as much history as the University of Cincinnati, that’s a staggering figure. To put it in perspective, imagine the entire population of cities like Boulder, Green Bay or South Bend, Ind., reaching into their pockets simultaneously to give money to a university campaign.

Perhaps even more stunning is that fully half of those people were first-time donors. The range of donors is startling, too, whether you look at who or where.

Roughly 60 percent of donors are alumni, meaning not only that our alumni believe strongly in the UC mission but that 40,000 non-alumni do, too. About a third of donations came from outside Cincinnati — New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Northern California, all over — which makes a statement about UC’s growing reach. And some $65 million came from our own faculty and staff, which says something about people’s willingness to invest in the future of a place they love.

The spirit behind this outpouring is both thrilling and humbling, especially when you think about the concrete changes it will make. Thanks to your generosity, 530 new scholarships have already been created, 23 faculty chairs endowed, and beautiful campus facilities planned or upgraded.

We will continue to attract and retain world-class faculty and students. We will push forward with new research into Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as the areas of business, law, religion, engineering and so many fields connected to so many lives.

We have many folks to thank for all of this, including campaign co-chairs Otto Budig and Buck Niehoff; Steve Wilson, chairman and interim president of the University of Cincinnati Foundation at the time; and all the staff and volunteers who worked to make “Proudly Cincinnati” a success.

But without the “you” in UC, reading this now, the university and its work literally couldn’t exist, much less be on the amazing trajectory of these last few years.

I’m as “proudly Cincinnati” as anyone. So after all the stats and numbers, finally and simply, I say, “Thank you.”


Santa J. Ono, President
University of Cincinnati