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Harvard Beats Stanford, Raising Record $1.16 Billion In A Year

FLI Harvard University

Harvard University

Harvard University raised a record $1.16 billion in donations in a single year, beating rival Stanford for the first time in a decade.

Harvard’s haul, the largest ever in higher education, represents more than the entire endowments of all but about 70 U.S. colleges. Stanford came in No. 2, with $928 million, its third-biggest total, according to a survey by the New York-based Council for Aid to Education, which tracks university giving.

The gifts to Harvard show that the nation’s wealthiest colleges are attracting a disproportionate share of higher education philanthropy, cementing their competitive positions, even as less fortunate universities find their finances weakening as they look for customers to afford soaring tuition. Such inequality is growing, said Ronald Ehrenberg, an economist at Cornell University.

“The richer institutions are pulling away from everyone one else in terms of their endowment resources and the vast annual giving sums they generate, much of which goes towards building their endowments,” Ehrenberg said. “At poorer places, you need the money for current operating and also for construction projects.”

Stanford and Harvard have long topped the annual fundraising list.

Harvard’s Gifts

Harvard, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and founded in 1636, is the oldest and wealthiest college with an endowment valued at $36.4 billion as of last June.

The largest gift in Harvard’s current tally was $30 million from a foundation, followed by another for $21.85 million, according to Ann Kaplan, who directs the survey. Harvard declined to give details about the gifts.

Its record year didn’t include the largest-ever gift to Harvard. The school received $350 million for its public health school in September from real-estate developers Gerald and Ronnie Chan. Harvard announced a $150 million gift for student aid, then the school’s largest, last February.

“I anticipate that Harvard will be able to continue on that trajectory for some time because they have relations with so many individuals who can make nine-figure gifts,” said Inge Reichenbach, who headed fundraising at Yale and Cornell for 22 years.

Harvard’s most recent take, a 46 percent increase from the year before, reflects the first year of a campaign, which aims to raise $6.5 billion by 2018.

‘Extraordinarily Generous’

“Our alumni and friends have been extraordinarily generous with their time and resources from the moment the Harvard Campaign began,” Tamara Elliott Rogers, vice president for alumni affairs and development, said in an e-mailed statement.

Younger Stanford University, near Palo Alto, California, was founded in 1885 and opened in 1891. Its endowment is valued at $21.4 billion. The last time Harvard raised more money than Stanford was in 2004.

Two years ago, Stanford set the previous higher-education record, of $1 billion. Stanford also bested Harvard on another measure last year, admitting only 5.1 percent of its undergraduate applicants, compared with Harvard’s 5.9 percent. Stanford received about 8,000 more applications than Harvard.

Strong Start

Stanford may be off to a strong start for next year. Its 2015 tally is expected to include more than 100 contemporary paintings, including works by Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning, donated for a new art museum. The value hasn’t yet been determined, according to Martin Shell, Stanford’s vice president for development.

“We’re humbled and honored to be where we are, and our donors continue to want to support us,” Shell said. Much of the money is directed toward areas such as stem-cell and cancer research that address “some of the most vexing issues facing humankind.”

Fueled by a buoyant stock market, colleges raised a record $37.5 billion in their 2013-2014 fiscal year, which for most colleges ended in June, according to the new report. That marked an almost 11 percent increase from the year before and the largest total in the history of the survey, which began in 1957. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 21 percent in the 12 months through June 30.

Top Tier

Just 20 of more than 3,000 colleges — higher education’s less than 1 percent — gathered 30 percent of the total. Seven colleges, including the University of Southern California, Northwestern University and Johns Hopkins University, raised more than $500 million apiece.

Duke University, University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania and 14 others attracted more than $400 million each. Some 35 schools raised more than $200 million, including Brown, Princeton and Emory universities. The tally includes cash, stock, real estate and other money received during the year. Pledges aren’t counted.

For the first time since 2005, Yale University didn’t make the top 10 in annual giving. The New Haven, Connecticut, college collected $430 million. Yale declined to comment.

by Janet Lorin for Bloomberg

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