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BU received record-breaking amount of donations in 2016


Boston University received a record-breaking number of donors, as well as the highest amount of donations in 2016, recently released financial statements of the fiscal year 2016 shows.

According to BU’s financial statements for the 2016 fiscal year, $157.5 million in donations and gifts were made to the university, which is a 12 percent increase from the previous year.

The university’s total endowment also reached an all-time high, at $1.655 billion, according to the statements.

BU spokesperson Colin Riley attributed the financial gains to the Campaign for Boston University, a fundraising campaign launched in 2012. The campaign’s goal was to raise $1 billion in five years, but it reached that goal in April.

“This was a terrific effort by our Development Office and our Alumni Relations Office,” Riley said.

Aside from the efforts from the campaign, the increase in donations also has to do with the generosity of alumni, Riley said.

“We have over 300,000 alumni who have a connection to the school and are people who are interested in supporting the university’s continued excellence in providing education across the board to young people,” he said.

Riley said donations are very important in allowing the school to reach its operating costs, which are not fully covered by tuition.

“Tuition only covers about half the operating costs of the university, so if the university’s operation costs for the year are over $2 billion, only half of that revenue stream comes from tuition,” Riley said.

The university’s total revenues during the fiscal year is $1.8 billion, including donations, tuition and other funding sources. Its operating courses weighed in at a million less, according to the finalcial statements.

“This is the first campaign of its type that ever started with a billion dollars,” Riley said of BU’s campaign. “The fact they reached it ahead of schedule and have expanded it to one and a half billion is really significant.”

In the university’s annual report, BU President Robert Brown wrote that he considered reaching the campaign goal “one of our most significant achievements this past year.”

Brown said the money will be used to hire professors and researchers, support new buildings and increase financial aid.

Additionally, the campaign was expanded with a new goal of $1.5 billion, to be raised by 2019.

“Why stop at $1 billion?” Brown wrote in the report. “What other diseases might we tackle, what other barriers might we break, how many more talented minds could we help develop?”

Scott Nichols, senior vice president of Development and Alumni Relations, wrote in an email that the university was not initially sure how alumni, parents and other potential donors would react when the campaign launched, but they was pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support it received.

“[Alumni] started engaging in unprecedented numbers and were very responsive in our requests to support the campaign,” Nichols said. “We had hints that they had very good attitudes about BU, the quality of the education they received and were very accomplished in life. The campaign has confirmed that suspicion.”

Several BU students said they are happy to know that alumni continue to support the school.

Claire Graham, a sophomore in the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said she was excited to hear about an increase in donations, and she is anticipating the construction of several buildings included in the campaign.

“There’s been so much construction going on on BU’s campus, I’d hope it goes towards the new buildings  — especially the new theater they’re building at [the College of Fine Arts] and the new life science building,” Graham said. “I would also love to see it go toward little improvements like the [George Sherman Union], and maybe some of the colleges that haven’t gotten a lot of love in a while in terms of renovations and updates.”

Madeline Andre, a sophomore in the College of General Studies, said she will consider donating as an alumna after graduation, and the best use of donations is financial aid.

“If I had the money, then maybe I would consider donating to BU because this school has done a lot for me, and if I could help BU do more for other students like me then, yeah, definitely,” she said.

Melissa Malinasky, a senior in Sargent, said she thinks the school should put its focus on increasing financial aid rather than construction and renovations.

“Once I start making more money  — not in the first five years of graduation or anything like that  — but, I would donate to the things at BU that matter to me specifically, like [Sargent College] or clubs I’m involved in,” Malinasky said. “I think that Sargent could use a lot more donors in terms of the buildings and I liked going here for four years.”

Noor Adatia contributed to the reporting of this story.

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