Capital campaign launches transformative programs

November 3, 2011

Out of the $1.5 billion the University looks to raise by 2016 as part of the Campaign for Georgetown, $300 million will go to the ambiguously titled “transformative opportunities.” Over the weekend, the University shed some light on what this category is meant to entail, releasing details for some of the projects it could fund.

“A transformative opportunity first builds upon [the University’s] existing strength. Second, [it] allows us to advance our mission,” R. Bartley Moore, the Vice-President of the Office of Advancement, said. “The third … is that eminence in the area in question will enhance the university’s ability to contribute to the understanding and response to the most important issues that we confront as a global community.”

Before the quiet phase of the campaign began in 2006, Georgetown departments were asked to identify big ambitions that would lead to transformative opportunities. Leaders of the campaign chose a select few to support.

One such transformative opportunity program is the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, led by Tom Banchoff. The center was recently endowed with a $10 million gift from campaign chair William Doyle as part of the Doyle Engaging Difference Initiative, established in 2009.

“The center supports teaching and student-led research that engages issues of difference at the heart of the human community—religious, cultural, economic, ethnic, or other,” Banchoff wrote in an email.

According to Banchoff, the center hopes to utilize this gift by infusing themes of diversity into many different classes already on campus, as well as creating four credit seminars that would include a research project.

Another opportunity focuses on environmental studies. According to Moore, it would build upon the science core that the University already possesses, but would go beyond what most other universities in the United States are doing.

“Our assessments suggest that no place has been really good at promoting the multidisciplinary or integrated study of the environment,” said Moore. “We think that’s an opportunity that if we were to seize and realize, would accomplish something here that no place else is fully doing yet.”

Other areas that could receive funding include public policy, global health, personalized cancer treatment, and a transactional law clinic. An anonymous donor recently gave $5 million towards these transformative opportunities.

According to Moore, $778 million of the total $1.5 billion had already been raised before the public launch kick-off last weekend. During the weekend, the campaign received an additional $21 million in verbal commitments, which will not become official until the donor signs a gift agreement.

The initiative was designed to ensure that students had the opportunity to be involved in the campaign. All students were welcome to the Afternoon of Ideas on Friday as well as the reception Friday evening. A small group of students also attended at a gala at the National Portrait Gallery on Saturday.

Mike Meaney (SFS ’12), the president of the Georgetown University Student Association, gave a toast at the Friday reception and attended the gala.

“It represents a inflection point in the trajectory of Georgetown,” Meaney said. “The financial footing that [this campaign] will put us on will allow us to continue to do all the extraordinary work we currently do along with expanding upon that work.”

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