Alumni Relations and Development

South Campus Residence Hall renamed Renee Granville-Grossman Residential Commons, in honor of a generous $44 million bequest—the largest in University history—from Renee Granville-Grossman, AB’63.

The University of Chicago’s South Campus Residence Hall was renamed Renee Granville-Grossman Residential Commons, in honor of a generous $44 million bequest—the largest in University history—from Renee Granville-Grossman, AB’63. Members of the University community celebrated the dedication at an event in February, including (from left) Karen Warren Coleman, vice president for Campus Life and Student Services, and relatives of Renee Granville-Grossman—Thadeus Obora and his mother Karoline Obora. (Photo by Robert Kozloff)
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The generosity and engagement of alumni, parents, families, and friends continue the momentum of the University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact with a record-setting first year.

Embracing the campaign’s first year

The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact officially launched its public phase October 29, 2014, by asking, “What difference can one idea, one person, one university make?” The responses came from 46,791 alumni, parents, family members, and friends—more than 2,000 making their first gift to the University. Together this community is helping to advance future inquiry and its impact on lives around the globe.

In announcing the year’s fundraising record of $534.7 million, University president Robert J. Zimmer praised the continued commitment of University supporters worldwide in helping “ensure that the University’s distinctive education and scholarship will flourish and its impact will continue to grow. We are deeply grateful for their investment in the University’s future and to the board of trustees for their continued leadership.” Trustees contributed a total of $70.3 million in gifts during the fiscal year.

Under the leadership of University trustee Joseph Neubauer, MBA’65, chair of the UChicago Campaign for its first year, progress toward the campaign’s $4.5 billion goal reached $2.57 billion by June 30, 2015, the end of the fiscal year. After Neubauer succeeded Andrew M. Alper, AB’80, MBA’81, as chair of the board of trustees in May, two members of the campaign council, trustees Emily Nicklin, AB’75, JD’77, and Dennis J. Keller, MBA’68, were named campaign cochairs.

Engaging in person and online, on campus and abroad

Along with its fundraising goal, the UChicago Campaign has an equally ambitious goal of engaging 125,000 alumni through intellectual, professional, and social activities on campus, around the world, and online. By the end of the fiscal year, 47,818 alumni—38 percent of the goal—had participated in University-related activities.

To celebrate the launch of the campaign, the University held seven Discover UChicago events around the world. Discover UChicago provided an opportunity for alumni and friends to learn about initiatives and research efforts that the campaign will support, meet faculty and students, and connect with one another. More than one in five of the guests attending in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong, and Seattle were at a UChicago event for the first time in at least three years.

Traditional events continued to bring alumni together around the world as well as draw them back to campus. Homecoming 2014, in particular, boasted a strong turnout, with 4,000 alumni, family members, and friends taking part in the family-friendly Homecoming Block Party on Saturday, October 25—attendance rose 75 percent from 2013. The weekend also featured the induction of eight new members into the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame. In June, Alumni Weekend brought more than 4,000 alumni and guests to the Hyde Park campus. Among the many alumni honored for their professional accomplishments, public service, or service to the University was pioneering astrophysicist Edward C. Stone, SM’59, PhD’64, who received the UChicago Alumni Association’s 2015 Alumni Medal.

During the year, more than 10,000 alumni volunteered their time to the University—conducting admissions interviews, organizing regional events, planning reunions, and more. More than 150 of those volunteers came together at the Alumni Association’s annual Volunteer Caucus, an opportunity for them to connect with one another and learn about opportunities to help the University. Eighty percent of the group attended the caucus for the first time. Provost Eric D. Isaacs delivered the keynote address at the New York City event, updating volunteers on the University’s key initiatives, and journalist Ray Suarez Jr., AM’93, interviewed trustee Dan Doctoroff, JD’84, about his growing philanthropic work and decision to join the University’s board of trustees.

In the spirit of intellectual curiosity and lifelong learning, the UChicago community attended Harper Lectures, featuring UChicago faculty in 39 cities around the world, where they discussed their research and scholarship. The year’s lectures addressed topics from microbiology to the Hollywood western and drew more than 2,000 alumni, parents, family members, and friends from Boston to Singapore.

The UChicago worldwide community continues to grow closer through online engagement. The UChicago Community Online (UCCO) hosts 46 online gathering places for alumni, based on interests or region, including new ones for the Alumni Clubs of Turkey and Hong Kong and the Alliance for the Civil Society.

Fiscal year 2015 also marked the advent of a pilot program of alumni social media ambassadors, who helped spread the word about the UChicago Campaign and fostered online engagement through social media.

An example is the first University-wide giving day on April 22 and 23. Heeding the rallying cry “Noon to Noon: Give Maroon,” 2,253 donors made gifts through the 24Hour Impact online campaign, raising a total of almost $1.5 million—an average of 96 gifts per hour. The primarily online effort was fueled by real-time updates on fundraising progress and alumni donors who helped spread the word, broadcasting their support for the No Barriers program, urban research, and other University priorities and schools via Facebook and Twitter.

Making an impact together

Throughout the year, alumni, parents, families, and friends showed their UChicago pride by supporting the distinct and empowering education and research of the University. Among College alumni, 41.5 percent made gifts to the University during the fiscal year, one of the highest undergraduate alumni participation rates nationwide. College reunion classes contributed more than $10 million and endowed five Odyssey Scholarships.

Affinity groups also helped in fundraising efforts. The LGBT Alumni Network issued a five-day challenge to benefit a newly established $100,000 endowment that the group created to fund an annual distinguished lecture series and accompanying student workshop at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. Bolstered by a leadership gift from Vincenzo Barbetta, AB’99, MBA’05, the challenge surpassed its goal of 100 donors and $15,000, ultimately raising nearly $23,000.

The year also saw the establishment of the Maroon Loyalty Society, which recognizes donors who make a gift of any amount to any area of the University for three or more consecutive years. In 2015, the society’s members numbered 24,202. These loyal donors provide the strong, consistent base of support that enables the University to remain one of the world’s great centers of discovery, education, and impact.