Campaign for Texas Goes Out with a Bang

By Angela Curtis
Published: Sept. 2

The Campaign for Texas, the state’s most ambitious nonprofit fundraising effort to date, concluded Aug. 31, topping its $3 billion goal by $115 million.

The $856 million that The University of Texas at Austin raised in the campaign’s final year is believed to set a new single-year record for higher-education fundraising in the state. Gifts to the eight-year campaign came from all 50 states and 97 countries.

“My heart is filled with thanks for every member of the Longhorn family — individuals, foundations, associations and corporations — who helped us,” said UT President Bill Powers.

The campaign, which drew more than 270,000 donors of gifts small and large, fueled a campus building boom and an influx of student and faculty talent. The campaign also raised money for pioneering research into matters ranging from the microscopic — designing cancer-fighting nanoparticles — to the vast — building the largest map of the universe ever created.

University leaders chose the $3 billion figure after studying what it would cost to implement the recommendations of the Commission of 125, a volunteer panel of more than 200 Texas and national leaders charged with outlining a vision for UT’s future. The panel’s 2004 report reiterated the 1876 Texas constitutional mandate for a “university of the first class,” recommending undergraduate curriculum reform and more demanding standards for leadership of academic departments and centers.

The campaign, which began its quiet phase in September 2006, faced challenges from the beginning. A month before the scheduled October 2008 public unveiling, Hurricane Ike made landfall in Galveston. Two days later the country’s fourth-largest investment bank filed for bankruptcy, triggering a national recession and a global financial crisis. University leaders announced the campaign as planned, saying they were in it for the long haul.

“The Campaign for Texas is an even greater achievement than the numbers convey because we succeeded during one of the worst economic times since the Great Depression,” campaign chair Kenny Jastrow said. “Thank you to our alumni and friends who had the vision and commitment to help the university we all love succeed.”

While the campaign had a goal in terms of dollars, its purpose was bigger than money. Focusing on its core resources — students, faculty, facilities, and programs and research — the university set out to change the world. Here are some of the accomplishments made possible by the Campaign for Texas.

members of the UT Austin solar car team with their vehicle


Donations to the Campaign for Texas have created myriad new opportunities to help more students reach their full potential:

UT Austin astronomer Karl Gebhardt


UT faculty members are doing amazing things every day with support from the Campaign for Texas:

  • Astrophysics professor Karl Gebhardt (right) and his colleagues are helping lead the quest to understand dark energy. Working on the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX), Gebhardt’s team is collecting data on a million galaxies to build the largest map of the universe ever created — a map that could change how we understand the laws of physics, even gravity.
  • Nutritional science professor Molly Bray, a nationally recognized expert on the genetics of obesity and exercise response, focuses on the relationship between weight and lifestyle factors to explore what makes it difficult for some people to maintain a diet and exercise regimen.
  • Biomedical engineering professor James Tunnell is fighting cancer, working to design gold nanoparticles that can be injected into the bloodstream, seek out, attach themselves to and kill cancer cells while leaving nearby healthy cells unharmed.
The Belo Center for New Media on the UT Austin campus


The Campaign for Texas has helped change the landscape of the Forty Acres, and each new facility is designed first and foremost to enhance learning and the student experience. Modern facilities that incorporate the latest technology cater to the way today’s students learn, with increased space for hands-on learning and collaboration.

  • New buildings completed during the campaign include the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, the Moody College of Communication’s Belo Center for New Media (right), the Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex, which includes Dell Computer Science Hall, the Dell Pediatric Research Institute and the Liberal Arts Building, among others.
  • The Dell Medical School complex is currently under construction on the southeastern edge of campus.
  • Two additional buildings — the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Engineering Education and Research Center and the McCombs School of Business’ Rowling Hall — are expected to open in 2017.
The Freshman Research Initiative enables first-year college students to conduct meaningful research and work directly with top-tier faculty

Programs and Research

As a research university, UT makes groundbreaking discoveries that improve our quality of life, many with help from the Campaign for Texas:

  • The Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) in the College of Natural Sciences is turning the traditional university research model on its head, placing about 750 first-year students per year in faculty labs where they conduct cutting-edge research usually reserved for upperclassmen and graduate students.
  • Of course, freshman research is only part of the vast UT research enterprise. All over campus, researchers from freshmen to graduate students to faculty are breeding innovation across disciplines. And in two years, the impact of UT research will expand even further with the opening of Dell Medical School.

Thank You

What starts here changes the world. And it started with you. Thank you.

The Campaign for Texas was the work of a community, the Longhorn Nation. From the smallest gifts to the largest, each donor chose to invest in the future by supporting The University of Texas at Austin. Students, friends, alumni, faculty and staff participated by making the gifts that were most meaningful to them. Whether $5, $500 or $50 million, every gift has made a difference.

However you chose to give, thank you. We hope you’ll stay with us for the next exciting phase: realizing the dream of the Campaign for Texas.

The campaign laid the foundation. Now the hard work begins. Are you in?

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$856M raised in FY13-14 believed to be largest ever for higher-education fundraising in Texas

— UT Austin (@UTAustin)

Check out the slideshow below for a snapshot of the university’s achievements over the past eight years.

  • The University of Texas at Austin celebrates the success of its historic Campaign for Texas. (Photo by Randall Ford)
  • The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center officially became part of the university in 2006, creating an opportunity for collaborative environmental education and research. (Photo courtesy of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center)
  • A percussion ensemble performs in the Butler School of Music. (Photo by Sally Mack)
  • The Blanton Museum is the largest university art museum in the country and the third-largest art museum in Texas. (Photo courtesy of Blanton Museum)
  • Juan Dominguez, a researcher and professor of psychology, studies the relationship between addiction and hormones. (Photo by Marsha Miller)
  • The Harry Ransom Center is home to the Magnum Photo collection, which includes more than 200,000 images from world-renowned photographers, an exceptional resource to humanities scholars both on the Forty Acres and beyond. (Photo by Marsha Miller)
  • The Horns Helping Horns program provides financial and logistical assistance to students who come to the Forty Acres without family support. (Photo courtesy of UT Austin)
  • Rob Adams helps NuMat Technologies founders celebrate their grand prize at Texas Venture Labs' Venture Labs Investment Competition, which is held on campus each spring. (Photo by Steve Moakley)
  • The Dell Social Innovation Challenge, based in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to problem-solving college teams from around the world. (Photo courtesy of LBJ School of Public Affairs)
  • The Freshman Research Initiative gives 750 freshmen per year the chance to conduct innovative research in faculty labs. (Photo by Sasha Haagensen)
  • A chemistry student conducts research in a lab in the College of Natural Sciences' Norman Hackerman Building, which opened in 2011. (Photo by Callie Richmond)
  • UT's McDonald Observatory, in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, is home to four research telescopes. (Photo courtesy of McDonald Observatory)
  • Dreamer, a mobile humanoid robot, is the brainchild of mechanical engineering Assistant Professor Luis Sentis, who established the Human Centered Robotics Lab in 2010. (Photo courtesy of Cockrell School of Engineering)
  • An example of the hands-on experience students receive, the UT Solar Vehicles team, a group of engineering students, designed, built and raced its solar creation at the Formula Sun Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. (Photo courtesy of Cockrell School)
  • The Belo Center for New Media, a five-story, 100,000-square-foot building, opened for the 2012 fall semester, providing new, interactive learning spaces for the more than 4,600 students in the Moody College of Communication. (Photo by Callie Richmond)
  • Designed to foster a collaborative environment, the Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall opened to students in 2013, providing for the first time on campus a central home to the nearly 2,000 undergraduate computer science students. (Photo courtesy of UT Austin)
  • The new Liberal Arts Building opened in 2013. With six levels, the building houses smart classrooms, conference facilities, student centers, computer labs, collaborative faculty space and a dedicated floor for ROTC. (Photo by Marsha Miller)
  • The Dell Medical School broke ground in April 2014. Anticipated to provide 515,000 square feet of facilities, the school aims to welcome its first class of students in the summer of 2016. (Photo by Marsha Miller)
  • Kenneth M. Jastrow, II, served as Chairman of the Commission of 125, a citizen panel that provided strategic recommendations for the university's continued progress. He also chaired the Campaign for Texas, playing an active role in achieving the commission's goals. (Photo courtesy of UT Austin)
  • UT President Bill Powers successfully led the university to surpass the $3 billion goal of the Campaign for Texas. (Photo by Wyatt McSpadden)

Click on the image to see more results from the campaign.

Campaign for Texas infographic


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