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University of Maryland launches its largest fundraising campaign to date

The University of Maryland has launched a $1.5 billion fundraising campaign aimed at paying for capital projects, investing in faculty, bolstering scholarships and expanding social innovation programs.

The effort, dubbed “Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland,” was unveiled Friday, after more than half of the $1.5 billion goal had been raised.

The university has already amassed more than $900 million toward the goal, including a $219 million donation last year from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation — the largest gift in the university’s history — a $31 million contribution from Brendan Iribe, co-founder of Oculus VR, and a $25 million gift from Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank in 2014.

The Fearless Ideas campaign is the university’s largest fundraising effort to date. It began quietly in 2014, and since then all philanthropic gifts to the university have been counted toward the campaign. The public phase of the campaign launched Friday and will run through 2021.

“It is industry practice to structure fundraising campaigns this way, building momentum throughout the effort,” Katie Lawson, a spokeswoman for the university, said in an email. “The public phase of the campaign offers a new opportunity to have conversations with alumni and friends of the university, as they can now see how a contribution to the campaign amplifies what we can achieve as an institution.”

The fundraiser aims to “address the great societal issues of our time through our unparalleled academic and research enterprise,” according to its website. Portions of the funds will go to athletics, graduate fellowships, undergraduate scholarships and support for veterans.

The campaign is being co-chaired by philanthropist Alma G. Gildenhorn; Barry P. Gossett, principal of the Gossett Group; William E. “Brit” Kirwan, former chancellor of the University System of Maryland; educator Karen B. Levenson; Michelle Smith, president of the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation; and Craig A. Thompson, a partner at the Venable law firm.

Honorary co-chairs include Plank and Iribe, both of whom have made large contributions to the university in the past several years. Plank’s $25 million gift is going toward redeveloping Cole Field House into an indoor football practice facility with centers for sports medicine and entrepreneurship. Iribe gave $31 million in 2014 to support the construction of the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation on the College Park campus.

Other large gifts that have gone toward the campaign include a $21.25 million gift from the Gossett family and a $10 million donation from the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation.

All of the university’s schools, colleges and units will be part of the campaign, and each will have established fundraising goals. The university declined to share specific goals for each college.

Donors may designate a specific school or program to support or give unrestricted donations.

If the $1.5 billion goal is met, the “Fearless Ideas” campaign would top the university’s most recent large-scale fundraiser. The previous campaign, “Great Expectations,” raised $1 billion between 2006 and 2012.

smeehan@baltsun.com

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