University announces new capital campaign

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Jonathan Reynolds/UNT
University of North Texas Emearld Eagle Honors at the Meyerson Symphony Center on Monday, April 15 in Dallas.
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University of North Texas officials have hinted for months they were preparing to launch a public phase of their capital campaign, and on Monday night they publicly announced a $200 million goal to about 1,000 alumni and UNT supporters.

Officials made the announcement in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas during the Emerald Eagle Honors, a fundraiser for UNT’s Emerald Eagle Scholars program, which supports primarily first-generation college students from families with limited resources.

The campaign is called: “The light is green. The time is now. The Campaign for UNT.”

“A lot of work has gone into this,” said Gayle Strange, a co-chairwoman of the capital campaign and a former chairwoman of the UNT Board of Regents. “The campaign is designed to benefit the students. It’s always all about the students.”

So far, the campaign has raised 85 percent of its $200 million goal to support initiatives for scholarships, student life programs, faculty positions, research and facilities, UNT officials said.

The university announced the campaign has three goals: fundraising, engaging alumni and supporters beyond the campus and developing a strong culture of philanthropy.

UNT officials said the campaign is designed to strengthen its relationships with the alumni and community in an effort to help each party reach their goals.

“We want to help the student and the university reach their goals,” Strange said.

The event was hosted by two prominent UNT alumni: Melissa Rycroft Strickland, who won Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars, and actor Peter Weller, who is best known for starring in RoboCop and will also be in this summer’s Star Trek movie.

Alumni honored at the event included Dallas City Manager Mary K. Suhm, “Mean” Joe Greene and the late Roy Orbison, a rock ’n’ roll icon.

University officials announced that during the quiet phase of the capital campaign, they have raised more than $27 million in new scholarships and more than 160 new endowed funds, doubled membership in the UNT Alumni Association and attracted the largest gift in UNT’s history of $22 million from Charn Uswachoke.

“This is a very big and ambitious goal for UNT given its history,” said Michael Monticino, UNT vice president of advancement. “It’s not only about raising money, but also about widening and deepening our relationships with our community.”

This isn’t the first campaign the university has started in recent years. About nine years ago, UNT raised $203 million in gifts and pledges over an eight-year campaign.

According to university reports, the eight-year campaign exceeded the original goal by 35 percent.

Over this same time period, growth in annual giving almost tripled from $5.7 million to $17.1 million and the planned gift inventory has more than tripled from $29 million to more than $100 million.

Monticino said the current campaign will have wider participation than the previous campaign and will have the potential to be even bigger.

“This is a very focused initiative and it will be more engaging with the community,” he said. “That’s what’s it mainly about.”

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.


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