At year’s end, MIT completed a capital campaign like no other in its history.
Robert Brown, MIT’s provost, says achieving an unprecedented total — $2.05 billion in gifts and pledges, with 81 percent in hand as the campaign ended — was a remarkable accomplishment in its own right. But that, he adds, was just one of many critical accomplishments of The Campaign for MIT.
For example, he notes, the campaign was MIT’s first in which selected contributors came forward with a major collective commitment — more than $182 million — to graduate student support. “It’s critical for us to keep attracting the very best students to MIT,” he says, “and fellowships help us do that.”
The campaign also saw an unprecedented increase in gifts — more than $800 million — to endowment. Those contributions, notes Brown, “generate income with long-term benefits for the Institute.” Significantly, the benefits include helping put still-young MIT on a more equal footing financially with more established private research universities.
One further example, he says, is the fact that so many contributors were willing to support “bricks-and-mortar,” with the total in that area topping $312 million. MIT needed to enhance the quality of its physical environment, he notes, so that support has played a key role in practical terms. But he adds that this giving has played another role that’s no less vital for being intangible.
As an example, he cites the new Stata Center and the still-in-progress Brain and Cognitive Sciences Project across from the center. These structures, he says, epitomize MIT’s commitment to critical changing or emerging fields like biological engineering, artificial intelligence, and the brain and cognitive sciences.
Once notable mainly for a big parking lot, that part of campus “is now, in some ways, the technological and scientific front door of MIT,” says Brown. “And while you can’t put a dollar figure on it, there’s real value in that kind of symbolism, just as there was value in the original complex erected when MIT moved from Boston to Cambridge.”
Overall, says Brown, MIT changed in major ways over the course of the campaign. What follows is a brief journey past a succession of windows on campaign-related developments and some of the individuals affected by them.