Georgetown University has launched a new initiative this semester to garner donor support from graduates, families and friends of the university to go toward infrastructure projects, scholarships and academic programs.
The public phase of this initiative, “Called to Be: A Campaign for Georgetown,” was launched this spring. The campaign aims to fund Georgetown’s promise to meet financial needs of students in the form of scholarships, as well as funding for the university’s research and education commitments, by reaching out to graduates and university friends to donate.
The campaign, which began fundraising efforts in July 2018, hopes to raise over $3 billion by June 2026. As of September 2023, Georgetown has reached over half that goal, with $1.83 billion raised in support of the university.
The public phase of the campaign has entailed several projects at the start of the Fall 2023 semester, including the placement of new banners advertising the campaign around campus.
The initiative is committed to funding four components of the university: access and excellence (student financial support), learning and discovery (teaching and research), health and environment (sustainable infrastructure) and society and democracy (philanthropy and civic engagement).
Bart Moore (SFS ’87), vice president of the office of advancement, which handles the university’s fundraising and development activities, said the university depends on the support of graduates and donors to accomplish its ambitious objectives.
“Great universities depend on great philanthropy. As much as our students and their families pay in tuition, and it’s a lot, tuition and our other operating revenues alone do not fund the whole universe of things that we do at Georgetown, in terms of academics, learning and teaching, research, co-curricular and extracurricular programs, building and managing and maintaining infrastructure,” Moore told The Hoya.
The “For Generations to Come” campaign, the last public campaign at Georgetown that ended in June 2016, raised $1.67 billion, according to Moore.
Moore said that the “Called to Be” campaign has had two parts: one, which is called the leadership phase, where the university tests its capacity to fundraise without publicly or officially announcing the campaign, began in June 2018; and two, the public phase, which officially launched in March 2023.
“Typically, in the leadership phase, you work to raise at least half of that goal before you officially announce the campaign and work to complete it,” Moore said. “In the leadership phase, we’re doing just about everything that we do in the public phase, we’re just not doing it under the banner of a formally named and formally launched campaign.”
Fr. Mark Bosco, S.J., Ph.D., the vice president for mission and ministry, said the message of the new campaign hopes to have a motivating and spiritual impact on the community.
“The Called to Be Campaign has really tried to use the language of our values in a very explicit way, so this idea of being called to something, there’s a bit of a vocation, to coming to Georgetown, whether you’re a student or a faculty member, or staff, what is your calling?” Bosco told The Hoya.
Bosco said the hopes are that the campaign will raise enough funds to enable an enriching student experience without increasing the cost of tuition.
“I see it impacting students in trying to make sure that we have the means to do impactful learning, impactful travel, and really kind of raising the bar on student living, student housing, classrooms, things like that,” Bosco said. “We know that we never want students’ tuition to go to things like this, right? So these are the things that we need all of our alumni to help us with.”
The first priority of the campaign is contributing to student financial needs and increasing revenue for scholarships, according to Moore.
“The first priority is affordable access. We have a $750 million goal for our first commitment, which is in student thriving,” Moore said. “That includes both direct investments in scholarship and financial aid, but also in a continuum of other things that create the best possible Georgetown experience — through things like student mental health resources, extracurricular programs and immersion learning.”
Georgetown University Student Association President Camber Vincent (SFS ’24) praised the campaign’s ambitions and efforts yet critiqued the level of outreach and awareness that the university has generated.
“The campaign is very robust and the university is clearly giving it the attention it needs in order to garner this level of funding,” Vincent wrote to The Hoya. “However, I think that most students are generally unaware of what the campaign is beyond the banners they’ve seen around campus, so the university may want to consider a promotion of the campaign to undergraduate students.”
Vincent said the campaign’s goals would significantly impact several emerging programs on campus.
“The extra income would allow new programs, like the McCourt School of Public Policy and the Earth Commons, to thrive and help Georgetown revisit and strengthen old ones, like expanding the size of GSP for each undergraduate class, both of which would improve the undergraduate student experience on campus,” Vincent wrote.
“The $3 billion target, if reached, would open up a new world of opportunities for many programs at Georgetown through funding as our endowment would be nearly doubled,” Vincent added.