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How ‘Far Above’ is the Capital Campaign?

With people complaining about the “fiscal arrogance” of capital campaigns for already fabulously wealthy institutions, it might help to put Cornell’s capital campaign in perspective.

As this table shows, after we control for the size of the student body, Cornell’s campaign doesn’t seem as atrocious as say... Stanford’s bid to raise $300,000 per student. Cornell’s only aiming to raise $200,000 per student. And although the absolute size of Dartmouth’s $1.3 billion campaign may be dwarfed Cornell’s $4 billion campaign, the Big Green is actually seeking to raise more money per student (and presumably per alumni/ae) than the Big Red.

We can go one step further and see how ambitious the campaign is relative to a university’s already established wealth. This is where Cornell’s campaign becomes more assertive: Whereas Stanford is seeking to raise 28% of its current wealth (as measured by endowment per student ) through its capital campaign, Cornell is essentially trying to double its wealth in its campaign.

Keep in mind that these are all back of the envelope calculations, and not all of the funds for the capital campaign will go into a school’s endowment. A lot of Cornell’s campaign will be going into the West Campus houses, Milstein Hall, the Life Sciences Building, and the new physical sciences building, just to name a few. And of course, only $2.7 billion will find its way back to Ithaca’s campus. The rest will be for Weill-Cornell.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on October 26, 2006 (#)

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