Cornell has a banner year of giving in 2011-12


In June Cornell closed the books on a record $777.8 million in gifts to "Cornell Now -- 2015."

That sum includes the university's largest gift ever, $350 million from Chuck Feeney '56 and his Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation to support the CornellNYC Tech campus.

"Every record-breaking year is made possible by a record-breaking gift," says Charlie Phlegar, Cornell vice president for alumni affairs and development. The only other year in which Cornell broke the $700 million mark was 2007, when a $300 million gift from Joan and Sanford Weill '55 brought Cornell's annual total to $741.4 million.

This past fiscal year included two gifts of more than $25 million, 14 at or above $5 million, 60 at or above $1 million, 381 gifts between $100,000 and $1 million, 673 gifts between $25,000 and $100,000, and nearly 50,000 gifts of less than $25,000.

Just over 31,000 of those gifts came from alumni, parents of current students, faculty, staff and friends who made gifts supporting the Cornell Annual Fund. In 2011 the Annual Fund broke the $30 million mark for the first time. In 2012 gifts to the Cornell Annual Fund totaled $31.49 million.

Joe Lyons '98, director of the Cornell Annual Fund, says that the 10th consecutive year of Annual Fund growth "is an incredible testament to the generosity of our donors and the trust they have in our university leaders to apply those gifts where the impact is greatest."

University leadership set targeted fundraising goals to help donors understand areas of need where their support will make the greatest impact. Cornell's top priorities remain undergraduate financial aid and faculty and program support.

"Cornell Now" will close in Cornell's sesquicentennial year, 2015, and the campaign is meeting benchmarks this fiscal year.

Phlegar attributes Cornell's recent success to the "incredible group of people who are absolutely committed to sustaining and advancing this great institution."

Chris Marshall, vice president for alumni affairs, attributes that loyalty, at least in part, to a strong tradition of alumni involvement in activities on and off campus.

"We held 1,400 events last year," Marshall says, "and a thousand of those were volunteer-driven. This increasingly engaged alumni body is going to lead to more support, including financial support. Alumni absolutely love this place, and they want to support it and make it even better for the next Cornellians."

Emily Sanders Hopkins is a staff writer in University Communications.


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