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Updated: February 10, 2020

With $500M goal, Bowdoin enters college capital funding fray

Photo / William Hall Bowdoin College is mounting a $500 million capital campaign, part of which will fund expansion of the school's career services, housed in the Moulton Union building, shown here.

Bowdoin College is the latest Maine school of higher education to launch a fundraising campaign with higher-than-ever goals.

The private, liberal arts institute in Brunswick on Friday announced a capital campaign with a goal of $500 million, the largest in Bowdoin’s 225-year history, according to a news release. The campaign has already raised more than $300 million in gifts and pledges during the so-called quiet phase of the campaign, which began in 2018.

Bowdoin hopes to raise the balance by June 30, 2024.

Dubbed "From Here: The Campaign for Bowdoin,” the campaign’s target is almost double the amount raised in Bowdoin’s last capital drive, which brought in $294 million from 2004-2009.

Among uses for the funds now being gathered, the college plans to allocate $200 million for student financial aid; $83 million to support faculty innovation in areas such as interdisciplinary scholarship and digital literacy; and $37 million to expand programming and internships through the college's Career Exploration and Development Center.

"Today, we live in a period of unprecedented change,” Bowdoin President Clayton Rose said in the release. “It remains our charge and responsibility to prepare our students for the world they inherit. That's what this campaign is all about.”

Meanwhile, two other Maine colleges are nearing the goals of their own record-setting capital campaigns. 

Colby College, in Waterville, said in November that it had raised $500 million in three years of its “Dare Northward” fundraising drive. It’s aiming to reach $750 million by June 30, 2023, and Colby says the campaign is the the largest ever undertaken by a liberal arts college.

In Lewiston, Bates College’s “Campaign for Bates” is homing in on a $300 million goal, the largest in the college’s history, according to its website. The five-year campaign launched in 2015, and to date has raised a total of $233 million. The prior all-time high for Bates was a $121 million capital drive that concluded in 2006.

The state’s largest public university is also getting in on the fundraising fervor. The University of Maine’s “Vision for Tomorrow” campaign is a multi-year effort to raise $200 million for scholarships, department funding and building support. According to its website, on Jan. 31 the campaign’s total donations surpassed $196 million.

In 2018, Harvard University completed a five-year capital campaign that collected $9.6 billion in donations, the most ever for a post-secondary school. Stanford University previously had the largest on record, $6.2 billion raised from 2007-12.

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