$1.2 billion campaign

The University of Georgia announced an ambitious goal of $1.2 billion for the Commit to Georgia Campaign as well as a lead gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation on Nov. 17 at a kickoff event at the Georgia Aquarium.

A commitment to students is at the center of this major fundraising effort, beginning with eliminating financial barriers by increasing support for merit- and need-based financial aid. In recognition of the critical importance of need-based aid, the Woodruff Foundation has made a transformational $30 million gift to the University of Georgia.

“The Woodruff Foundation is pleased to join alumni and friends of the University of Georgia to help expand opportunity for students with financial need,” said Russ Hardin, president of the Woodruff Foundation. “We recognize that many bright, hard-working Georgia students face significant financial barriers to attending the university, and that far too many students graduate with burdensome debt. UGA’s ambitious campaign will help ensure both the educated workforce and the leadership our state needs to prosper in future years.”

This is the largest single gift ever received by the University of Georgia, and it builds positive momentum for the public phase of the Commit to Georgia Campaign.

“On behalf of the University of Georgia, I would like to express our deepest appreciation to the Woodruff Foundation,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “This monumental gift will be felt for generations to come, and the lives of countless students and their families across this great state will be forever changed by this tremendous act of generosity.”

In addition to increasing scholarship support for hard-working UGA students, the Commit to Georgia Campaign also will create more opportunities for hands-on learning and mentorship.

“UGA students are future leaders,” said Kelly Kerner, vice president for development and alumni relations. “This campaign will help more students have life-changing opportunities both in and out of the classroom, which will better prepare them to take on leadership roles in their careers and communities.”

Beyond supporting students, the Commit to Georgia Campaign will help faculty and staff address some of the biggest issues facing the state and world. UGA is uniquely positioned to tackle challenges ranging from preventing the spread of infectious diseases like Zika to feeding the world’s growing population to spurring economic development in the state. The Commit to Georgia Campaign not only will secure resources for such efforts but also will create more endowed professorships to attract and retain the very best and brightest faculty.

“The forward momentum at the University of Georgia is electric,” said Pete Correll, honorary co-chair of the campaign committee and chairman emeritus of Georgia-Pacific. “I am proud to be a Bulldog and proud to help UGA reach the $1.2 billion goal. More importantly, I am proud of the opportunity we have to positively impact thousands of students and generations of Georgians.”

Fundraising for the Commit to Georgia Campaign in the preceding silent phase already has reached more than $680 million, surpassing the total amount raised during UGA’s previous major campaign. Last week, the university shared its campaign priorities at a campus event where more than a thousand faculty, staff and students gathered in celebration. The university aims to reach its $1.2 billion goal by 2020.

“The success of our efforts will be measured not only by the number of dollars raised but also — and more importantly — by the number of lives changed,” Morehead said.