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Updated 4:00 PM May 18, 2004
 

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'The Michigan Difference' kicks off public phase


More than 1,000 alumni and friends of U-M will be on campus later this week to kick off "The Michigan Difference"—the largest fund-raising campaign in the University's history.

At more than 90 events across campus, schools and colleges will highlight their programs and explain their fund-raising goals to support new scholarships, fellowships and professorships, as well as research initiatives, new programs and building projects.

Provost Paul N. Courant says he has worked with units across campus to develop thoughtful plans for what the University should do during the next 10-20 years as it seeks to maintain the "breadth and depth of excellence that undergirds its greatness."

"We have an institution here that is very expensive and very valuable," Courant said at a media briefing May 5. To remain in the forefront of innovation requires up-to-date facilities and faculty and staff "who are second to none," Courant said.

"This University, more than most public universities, has relied upon philanthropy to make the difference for some time," he said. With the current state of the economy and decreasing support from the state, gifts from generous donors become increasingly important, he said.

Campaign co-chair Richard Rogel agreed, saying he spends a great deal of time talking with alumni and friends of U-M, explaining the need for their support.

"For Michigan to remain unique, 'The Michigan Difference' has to succeed," Rogel said. "It allows us to do things that are necessary and that project us into the future."

Key priorities for the future of the University have been expressed in five major categories of support, Vice President for Development Jerry May said. The campaign will seek to:

• Fulfill the promise of science and technology

• Enrich the student experience

• Inspire a life of arts and culture

• Advance health and society's well-being

• Prepare leaders for the local and global economy

May highlighted a number of major gifts already received in each of these areas, including $22 million for out-of-state student scholarships from Rogel and wife, Susan, intended to enrich the student experience by allowing financially strapped students to enjoy all the University has to offer instead of spending the majority of their time outside of class working to pay for their education.

Other donors May cited include Mary and Edwin Meader, whose $10 million gift to the Depression Center will advance health and society; Maxine and Stuart Frankel, who gave $10 million to build a new wing on the Museum of Art in support of University arts and culture; Leonore Annenberg, who has no affiliation with U-M but whose appreciation for former President Gerald R. Ford prompted a series of gifts totaling $4.5 million to the school bearing his name that prepares leaders for careers in public policy; Jerry Levin and Kevin O'Connor, industry leaders, who each donated $5 million for College of Engineering projects to further science and technology.

These lead gifts were among those secured during what is called a silent phase of the campaign that started in July 2000, May said. This period of time, typical of major fund-raising campaigns, is for developing goals and priorities, building a network of volunteers, and contacting key donors to see what projects they are interested in supporting.

May said the silent phase was a bit longer than usual because of changes in leadership, including the hiring of the president, provost and several deans. May is new in his position as well, having arrived 15 months ago.

The campaign will kick off May 14 with an announcement of the goal and a charge to the volunteers. It will end in December 2008.

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