$3.25 Billion Campaign is University-wide Effort

Five-year effort involves faculty, staff and students

William Conescu, right, former director of Duke development communications, explores the Duke Forward website with Alice McKenzie at the Duke Forward campus launch. Photo by Duke Photography.

Staff members in the Office of University Development arrived Oct. 1 exhausted but delighted to find their inboxes filled with well wishes and congratulations.

After two years of fundraising and months of event planning, they had officially launched "Duke Forward: Partnering for the Future," the university's $3.25 billion fundraising campaign, during a weekend of events, including a gala for about 800 people. 

"It was an incredible start and a labor of love, but there's a lot more to be done," said Sarah West, the associate vice president for strategic planning and the campaign.

Part of that work involves building on the momentum of the campus launch by engaging supporters where they work and live. Senior leaders from Duke will attend regional events in Atlanta, Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York and London before the end of the academic year. 

"It takes a little army of staff and volunteers to put on each of these events," West said.  

Duke Forward, which continues until 2017, raised $1.325 billion during its "silent phase" over the past two years. The campaign includes goals for all 10 of Duke's schools, the Health System and a range of university programs including financial aid, faculty development, research and patient care, athletics and annual giving. A significant part of the campaign will focus on Duke's unique strengths, including interdisciplinary efforts in basic and translational medical science, innovation and entrepreneurship, the arts, energy, global health and the environment.

Generating excitement about these priorities comes, in large part, from sharing stories of how Duke has made a difference from faculty, staff and students. 

"We show people the quality of people who work here, how meaningful their work is to them and how hard they try for it," President Richard H. Brodhead said in October during Primetime, an employee forum. 

He recalled the poignancy of meeting a Duke medical postdoctoral student at the campaign launch who's life had been saved at age 5 by pioneering stem cell research carried out at Duke. 

"These are the sort of miracles that only a research university can create," Brodhead said. 

Duke staff and faculty are encouraged to participate in the campaign by sharing their Duke stories on the campaign website, dukeforward.duke.edu.