This story originally appeared on MIT News on October 26, 2017.
At the launch of the MIT Campaign for a Better World in May 2016, MIT President L. Rafael Reif called upon the Institute’s alumni and friends to join MIT in its effort to raise $5 billion to take on some of humanity’s most urgent global challenges. Propelled by strong support for the Campaign, the Institute ended fiscal year 2017 with $589 million in new gifts and pledges—amounting to the highest annual fundraising total in MIT’s history and bringing the total raised so far in the Campaign to $3.6 billion from more than 87,000 individuals and organizations.
“These have been an extraordinary 12 months for MIT,” says Julie Lucas, MIT’s vice president for resource development. “We asked our alumni and friends around the globe to be a part of our efforts to create a better future, and they responded with generosity, enthusiasm, and conviction. We are extremely grateful for this show of confidence in MIT. We are particularly thankful to our leadership volunteers, who are dedicating their time and wisdom to helping us realize our vision. It will take the entire community continuing to come together to meet our ambitious financial goal and fulfill our bold aspirations for MIT and what it can contribute to the world.”
The MIT Campaign for a Better World, which encompasses MIT’s five schools and all of its departments, labs, and centers, is focusing MIT’s distinctive strengths in education, research, and innovation on problem-solving priorities ranging from education to basic scientific research to human health. The initiative is also bolstering MIT at its core: attracting and supporting outstanding faculty and students from around the world and giving them the resources and spaces they need to do their groundbreaking work. With generous contributions that span these areas, the Campaign is already having an impact across campus.
A few examples: the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) was launched to convene a global community of collaborators that will help educators, universities, governments, and companies transform the effectiveness and reach of education around the world. The new Hock E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Center for Autism Research at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT will support research on the genetic, biological, and neural bases of autism spectrum disorder. A significant gift of unrestricted funds will provide the Institute with resources that allow it to build on core strengths, invest in daring ideas, and respond as needed to unanticipated challenges. Meanwhile, support for undergraduate and graduate financial aid and faculty remains robust, underscoring the MIT community’s commitment to the talented students and teachers at the heart of the Institute. And new teaching, learning, living, and research spaces are providing faculty and students with facilities that enable them to collaborate and thrive.
As the Campaign continues to gather momentum, it is aimed at meeting the needs of a number of significant campus projects underway that are essential to the Institute’s goals. These include MIT.nano, a 200,000-square-foot nanotechnology and fabrication facility currently rising in the center of campus, and student housing revitalization and building efforts like the renovation of New House and the construction of a new undergraduate residence hall on Vassar Street in West Campus. In addition, a major development in Kendall Square, which includes a graduate student residence tower, innovation and entrepreneurship space, and a new home for the MIT Museum, is poised to transform the area into a prominent new gateway to the Institute and provide the MIT community with a primary portal to the innovation ecosystem of Cambridge.
One of the hallmarks of the Campaign is its global reach. Since the Campaign launch, the MIT Better World event series has engaged more than 4,500 alumni and friends at gatherings in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London, Tel Aviv, Mexico City, Washington, DC, and Boston. Upcoming cities include Houston, Seattle, and Miami, and additional locations will be announced.
“I am inspired by the progress of the Campaign and by the dedication and participation of those who believe in MIT’s mission and values,” President Reif says. “This past year, thousands of miles of travel gave me the opportunity to connect with some of MIT’s most devoted alumni and friends. This tide of support and enthusiasm offers unmistakable proof that our aspirations for the Campaign are resonating within our community and around the world. The Campaign is channeling the spirit and expertise of MIT’s alumni, faculty, students, and staff to tackle some of the world’s most important problems and create enduring positive change.”