In what is said to be the largest fund-raising campaign in the history of American higher education, the University of Southern California formally announced plans Friday to raise $557 million over the next four years.
According to USC President James H. Zumberge, the campaign, if realized by 1990, would nearly double the university's relatively modest endowment of $299.8 million and pay for such important new projects as the expansion and modernization of its library and research facilities. It also would provide for construction of a new Student Activity Center that would contribute to USC's continuing transformation from a commuter school to a residential university.
Campaign No Surprise
Since USC has been working openly on the fund drive for several years, Zumberge's announcement came as no surprise to the Los Angeles philanthropic community. Indeed, pledges amounting to $207 million, or 37% of the campaign's total, had already been made in advance of Friday's announcement, Zumberge said. Included in those pledges was a $6.5-million gift from Orange County businessman William Lyon to be used for the Student Activity Center.
Zumberge and the campaign's national director, Carl E. Hartnack, former president and chairman of Security Pacific National Bank, expressed optimism that USC would realize its goal, even though the campaign is by far the largest fund-raising effort in the university's 106-year history.
According to Brakeley, John Price Jones Inc., a national fund-raising organization specializing in higher education, the next-largest university campaign to date is now being brought to a close by Columbia University at about $500 million. In 1984, Johns Hopkins University launched a $450-million campaign.
Just across town, UCLA has been conducting its own multi-year campaign, one that has been so successful that officials there recently won approval from the University of California Board of Regents to raise the campaign goal from $200 million to $300 million.
Zumberge said that UCLA's success in raising money does not pose a competitive threat to USC but is rather "a good omen for us." It means, he said, that people in Southern California are in a "giving mood."
Despite such optimism, raising money over the next few years may be a difficult process for universities. Many financial experts wonder whether potential donors will still be in a giving mood if the landmark revision of the federal tax code goes into effect, as expected, on Jan. 1.
Under that bill, taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions would no longer be allowed to deduct charitable contributions. This change is widely expected to reduce contributions from middle-income donors.
Of even greater concern to universities is that the bill would eliminate a major tax incentive for wealthy individuals because the appreciated value of large assets of land or stock holdings would be subject to capital gains taxes, even when the holdings are turned over as gifts to nonprofit organizations.