Stanford University will try to find out how much a billion dollars can buy.
And what it takes to raise that much cash.
Those are the aims of a fund-raising campaign the Palo Alto school plans to officially launch early next year as part of its centennial celebration.
It's thought to be the largest-ever such drive by an American university, topping a $500-million campaign currently under way at New York's Columbia University, said David Fulton, director of communications for the university's development office.
Final details of the program, including a specific dollar amount and a date for the official announcement, haven't been settled, Fulton said. But the amount to be raised will be "in the billion dollar range," he added.
For the money, the university hopes to redevelop a 41-acre site with new buildings to house its science, technology and engineering departments, endow 100 additional faculty chairs and increase the number of students pursuing independent study from 10% to 30%, largely through the addition of instructors, Fulton said.
Currently, about 170 of the school's more than 600 full professors hold endowed chairs, he said. In addition to more independent study for students, money raised will be used to move more educational functions into the dormitories, principally through seminars and having "distinguished visitors live with the kids," Fulton explained.
Stanford, a private university with a total enrollment of more than 12,000, will raise the money primarily from sources in California and the drive will ultimately involve "several thousand volunteers" grouped into two major task forces, Fulton said. The school has about 69,000 graduates in the state, including 23,000 in Southern California.
Stanford recently doubled the staff of its office in Los Angeles from five to 10 to gear up for the fund drive, said spokesperson Mary Krochet, adding that the new employees include four fund-raisers.
The university was founded in 1885 but didn't open its doors until a campus was completed in 1891.