The Michigan Difference
University celebrates historic campaign

From marching band members playing "The Victors" to a guest appearance by a husband-and-wife television anchor team, to the testimonies from several donors who shared their Michigan Difference stories, the University celebrated the finale of the largest fundraising campaign in its history.
The Michigan Marching Band, maize and blue streamers and flashing lights all signify the celebration of The Michigan Difference finale. (Photo by Scott Galvin, U-M Photo Services)

During a Nov. 14 ceremony at Hill Auditorium, University officials announced The Michigan Difference has raised more than $3.1 billion in support of facilities, programs, professorships and student aid since July 2000.

The support of more than 364,000 donors has enabled the University to increase greatly student financial aid, create new student programs, hire and retain outstanding faculty, support groundbreaking research, and provide new buildings for health care, teaching, arts and entertainment, and more.

"The University of Michigan is an investment unlike any other. It is an enterprise that advances worthy ideals, creates productive jobs, and opens the doors to infinite possibilities for the students who walk through them," President Mary Sue Coleman said.

"We have received gifts of $10 and gifts of $100 million. Each and every one of these gestures is special, not because of the amount but because of the value of stepping forward to make a difference in the life of our institution. "

The Michigan Difference ... making a difference today:

• Mary Karina, valedictorian of her class at Regina High School in Warren, had the grades and the drive to succeed at U-M but financing was going to be a struggle. Her father, a salesman, has taken pay cuts because of the struggling economy and her mother was out of work until recently when she found a job at a food service worker. The four-year scholarship she has received will cover most of her tuition. She is the first member of her family to attend a four-year university.

• The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy has its first home under one roof thanks to major campaign support for its new building. Susan Collins, who holds the campaign-funded Joan and Sanford Weill Deanship, says this landmark new building is transforming the student and faculty experience.

• The restoration and expansion of the U-M Museum of Art will offer a multidisciplinary meeting place for the arts, says Museum Director James Steward. The project, a striking addition to the central campus landscape, will vastly expand the ability of the museum to showcase and interpret more collections.

• Professor Ron Zernicke left the Canadian Rockies for Michigan as director of the campaign-funded Bone & Joint Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Center. The new center draws on a range of demonstrated strengths at Michigan — kinesiology, orthopaedics, biomedical engineering — to conduct critical research into preventing injuries and rehabilitation, and promote lifelong musculoskeletal health.

• Steven Hechtman is a senior electrical engineering major who is 2009 project manager of the national champion Solar Car Team. Hechtman, whose hometown is Vienna, Va., says he was only able to attend U-M as an out-of-state student because of scholarships. He is the recipient of the Gloria Wille Bell and Carlos R. Bell Scholarship.

The campaign raised $3,115,644,057, Campaign Chair Rich Rogel announced. The sum is believed to be the largest amount ever raised by a public university, and substantially exceeds the goal of $2.5 billion announced in 2004. The $3.1 billion represents receipts as of Oct. 31; the campaign ends officially Dec. 31.

"The University of Michigan family has met and exceeded our ... goal in gifts large and small, building great edifices in concrete and brick, and brilliant minds through scholarships and fellowships," said Katherine White, chair of the Board of Regents. "For all of this, we thank you."

The campaign celebration, emceed by the husband-and-wife team of NBC Sports anchor Andrea Joyce (AB '76) and CBS Early Show anchor Harry Smith, brought the campus together to recognize the changes achieved by The Michigan Difference. The convocation-style event concluded with a rousing performance by the Michigan Marching Band as maize and blue ribbons streamed into the audience.

"Donors have not only given to today's faculty and students," Rogel said, "they have invested in the future — the future of the University, the future of the state of Michigan, and the future of our nation and world. This campaign is as much about the future as it is about the present. They've done all this and more. They have truly made The Michigan Difference!"

The theme for the campaign was chosen to illustrate the unique nature of the University's teaching, research and public service. Coleman, Rogel and other campaign leaders have emphasized the vital role of philanthropy in advancing U-M's position as one of the nation's leading research universities.

The keynote speech, "Philanthropy's Happiness," was delivered by Paul Schervish, professor of sociology and director of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College. Schervish encouraged the audience to evaluate their finances and to find a way to incorporate giving back to others into their regular budgets.

Donor philanthropy has endowed more than 185 new professorships; launched the construction of 22 new campus buildings, including the 1-million-square-foot C.S. Mott Children's and Women's Hospital — the largest building project in U-M history — and a new wing that more than doubles the size of the U-M Museum of Art; and funded major initiatives in emerging fields. Examples range from the $100 million gift from Stephen M. Ross, the largest in the University's history, to the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute to the newly announced Ronald and Eileen Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies and the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia.

"The buildings created by today's campaign complement these icons of yesteryear. They are spectacular, in both form and function," Coleman said. "But what's truly important is what happens inside our new classrooms, museums, clinics and performance halls. These buildings are where the Michigan Difference unfolds every day with intellectual capital. These facilities say to our faculty, staff and students: you will always have what you need to do your best work."

Student support has been a particular priority during The Michigan Difference, as signaled by the success of Coleman's two Donor Challenges for undergraduate and graduate student aid. The challenges, which match qualifying contributions toward need-based undergraduate scholarships and graduate and professional student fellowships, have generated nearly $130 million in new funding to address these needs — part of a total of more than $634 million in student support contributed throughout the campaign. Michigan students already are benefiting from this increase in the availability of financial aid: campaign giving added more than $10 million to the total amount of scholarship and fellowship money the University was able to distribute during fiscal year 2008 alone.

Among the donors honored during the finale were the more than 16,500 University faculty members, staff and retirees who have participated in the Heart of The Michigan Difference faculty-staff campaign, contributing $155 million toward the University's overall Michigan Difference total.