Tulane University has collected more than 60 percent of a $1.3 billion fundraising goal after six years of privately soliciting donations, officials said Friday — a triumph for a private university that faced multimillion-dollar deficits as recently as two years ago.
When the full fundraising goal — Tulane’s most ambitious ever — is realized, it will help the school take a more prominent place among universities of its size and standing elsewhere in the country, officials said.
“We’ve thrived, but always with fewer resources,” Tulane President Michael Fitts told supporters who gathered Friday for the launch of the public phase of the fundraising drive.
“But here’s the thing: I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of running a marathon from 15 yards behind.”
Ideally, the roughly 13,500-student Tulane should have more than $2 billion in its endowment fund, Fitts said.
By comparison, Vanderbilt in 2016 had about $3.8 billion, Rice about $5.3 billion, Emory about $6.4 billion, Georgia Tech about $1.8 billion, Georgetown about $1.5 billion, and Baylor and Wake Forest about $1.1 billion each. Harvard led the parade with $34.5 billion. Loyola University, whose campus is next to Tulane's, had $244 million.
Another 14 percent of the fundraising total is slated for capital improvements, including a new digital technology center, expansion of the Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex and a new dining hall.
About 10 percent will go to the Tulane Fund, an unrestricted pool of cash the university draws from to meet urgent needs.
Separately, Fitts said that Tulane has closed the annual $15 million to $20 million operating deficit the school had been running, mainly through a combination of voluntary buyouts and elimination of unneeded positions.
Tulane said in 2015 that it was seeking to cut between 90 and 110 positions by way of buyouts.
In fiscal year 2017, which began on July 1, 2016, the school was in the black, Fitts said. It began the 2018 fiscal year in the black as well and has not needed to lay people off.
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