Alumni Relations and Development

Game-changing scholarship support

Game-changing scholarship supportA gift from David M. Rubenstein, JD’73, funds the largest scholarship effort in the Law School’s history. Read full story >


Despite the challenging economic climate, philanthropic support for the University of Chicago maintained its upward trajectory in fiscal year 2011, surpassing the $300 million mark in annual fundraising progress for the fourth time in the University’s history.

The record of support reflects the generosity of a worldwide community of alumni and friends who demonstrated their belief in the University’s mission and values through their philanthropy and volunteer efforts. It also demonstrates steady progress toward a goal set by the Alumni Board of Governors and the Alumni Relations and Development Committee of the Board of Trustees in 2009: to engage a majority of UChicago alumni in the life of the University through volunteerism, attendance at events, or philanthropic support.

Record of Giving Spans the University

In a giving effort that touched every corner of the institution, 51,051 donors, including 48,781 individuals and 2,270 organizations, contributed more than $304 million. Contributions from members of the University’s Chicago Society—alumni, parents, and friends who have made aggregate gifts of $2,500 or more to UChicago during the previous fiscal year—were truly sustaining, amounting to nearly $140 million, or 54 percent of all cash gifts to the University.

Equally important was a 7.7 percent increase in the number of contributors over fiscal year 2010—a trend that appeared across many areas of the University. Some 7,500 donors, a 16 percent increase over last year, contributed to the Chicago Booth Annual Fund, raising more than $5 million. Challenged to increase participation from College alumni, 37 percent of undergraduate alumni made gifts to the University in fiscal year 2011. Nearly 35 percent of those gifts came from College alumni who graduated within the past ten years. Giving among these members of the Classes of 2001–10 reached a historic high at 3,087 donors, an 11 percent increase over the previous year.

Engaging Alumni, On Campus and Beyond

When the University of Chicago Center in Beijing opened in September 2010, UChicago alumni were well represented among the 600 guests who attended the opening conference and festivities. Many of the alumni attendees had personal or professional ties to Asia, but others came simply because they wanted to share an important moment in the life of their university.

A month later, 200-plus volunteers from across the University and around the world gathered on the Hyde Park campus for the second annual Volunteer Caucus. Along with updates from University leaders, participants shared tips and information about ways to support UChicago through activities from career advising to club programming. The academic year ended on a record note: Alumni Weekend, the largest alumni event of the year, brought 5,077 alumni, alumni guests, and friends to campus—a 7 percent jump in attendance from June 2010.

Throughout the year, the Alumni Association continued to highlight the work of UChicago faculty through events like the Harper Lectures, but it also increased its promotion of the achievements of alumni through a series of lectures by distinguished alumni. The Boston alumni club, for example, hosted an event with Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith, MBA’90.

Alumni-to-alumni programming flourished. Chicago Affinity Groups, which offer alumni a way to continue their association with the University by engaging with each other around shared interests and shared identities, had a particularly successful year, as the UChicago LGBT Alumni Network expanded from groups in Chicago and New York to the Bay Area, Boston, and Washington, DC. The 300-member Chicago Women’s Alliance produces its own intellectual and networking programs for women with significant life experience.

Odyssey Scholarship Challenge Sails On

Support continued to build for the Odyssey Scholarship Challenge. Odyssey scholarships provide funding to eliminate or reduce loans for UChicago undergraduates from low- or moderate-income families, drawing some of the nation’s most promising students to campus. In 2010, 52 percent of Odyssey-eligible applicants accepted the University’s offer of admission, and more than 1,100 undergraduates now benefit from Odyssey scholarships, free to focus on the College’s rich curricular and cocurrricular offerings.

In making his landmark $100 million gift in 2007, the anonymous donor known as Homer guaranteed $50 million, promising the balance when the University community met the challenge to endow the program in perpetuity. By June 30, 2011, gifts from 4,470 donors, including 570 Odyssey scholars and alumni, had built the endowment’s value to almost $55 million.

Each year, the generosity of individuals and organizations creates similar, lasting legacies of learning and impact. To read more about such gifts in fiscal year 2011, please see Giving Highlights (right).