IOWA CITY - Student scholarships, faculty and research support and campus facilities are among the priorities for the University of Iowa's record-setting $1.7 billion fundraising campaign, officially announced by UI leaders Thursday.
More than $1 billion already has been raised toward the goal counting since 2008, UI President Sally Mason said, with the campaign end date set for December 2016.
The campaign -- the largest fundraising effort in UI history -- has been in the quiet phase for years. UI leaders made the official announcement Thursday, kicking off the final, public phase of "For Iowa. Forever More: The Campaign for the University of Iowa."
"This is a history-making day, certainly, for the University of Iowa," Mason said. "We need our donors, our alumni … mobilized, energized and on board with us."
The three priorities of the campaign are educating students; boosting discoveries in medicine, health fields and environmental science; and enriching commerce, culture and communities for Iowans, officials said.
That will translate into more money for student scholarships, study abroad experiences, leadership training, research experiences and internships. The campaign also will provide funds for endowed faculty chairs and support for faculty and researchers on campus, UI officials said.
"Scholarships are critical, there's no doubt about it," Mason said. "It really is all about supporting people."
UI junior Nick Rolston, 21, spoke during the kick-off event and said a presidential scholarship and an Advantage Iowa scholarship have covered his costs while studying physics and math, allowing him to graduate next year without student loan debt.
"At the end of the day, the financial aspects really pushed me over the edge" in choosing to attend the UI, he said.
Money from the campaign also will help build new facilities and renovate existing buildings on campus, including help with flood recovery. New structures that will get funding include the John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building (scheduled to open in 2014); the UI Children's Hospital (scheduled to open in 2016); and a new Hancher, School of Music, and Art Building (all scheduled to open in 2016).
A new UI Museum of Art -- closed since it was damaged in the 2008 flood -- also will be among the fundraising priorities, Mason said.
There have been more than 116,500 individual gifts so far, and the campaign to date has endowed 317 new student scholarships and support funds, 118 new research support funds and 88 new faculty support funds.
Pat and Judy Baird, from Cedar Rapids, are among the donors to the current campaign. They gave money for the Carver Hawkeye addition several years ago.
"I think there's a danger in an institution falling so far behind that they can't catch up, and I don't want to see my generation of donors let that happen," Pat Baird said.
Seeing the university through flood recovery and completing this fundraising campaign are the "two things on my to-do list before I retire," Mason said Thursday.
"The Hawkeyes are just amazing people," she said. "They have been loyal, they have been great friends, even through our worst possible times, and they have been generous supporters, and I thank them for that."The university's last comprehensive campaign raised a then-record $1.05 billion from 1999 to 2005.