University to begin historic campaign

USC will launch the largest fundraising campaign in the school’s history this fall, aiming to raise $5 billion in seven years.

The “Campaign for the University of Southern California,” announced Sunday, will officially kick off Sept. 15 and will support academic goals and building projects university-wide.

Under the leadership of President C. L. Max Nikias, the university has already received gifts totaling more than $1 billion. The university’s goal of raising $6 billion by 2018 — the $1 billion already received and the $5 billion campaign — is the most ambitious fundraising goal in higher education to date.

The university intends to use half of the $6 billion to significantly increase the size of its endowment, which at about $3 billion is considered small given the number of students and the size of the school. The rest of the money raised will go toward new buildings and labs that will span disciplines including the social sciences, arts and medicine.

Specific goals include adding more student scholarships, increasing support for doctoral and postdoctoral students, revamping undergraduate residential colleges and adding graduate student housing.

Undertaking a major fundraising campaign has been a primary goal for Nikias since he took over  as president. USC’s last major capital campaign concluded in 2002 and was the most successful fundraising effort in higher education history to that point, raking in $2.85 billion in nine years.

Since then, a number of universities have surpassed that total, but none have attempted a bid at the $6 million mark.

Columbia University is currently trying to raise $5 billion, a goal it set after surpassing its original $4 billion goal.

Harvard University has indicated its upcoming campaign might reach higher than that, according to the Harvard Crimson, but an official number has not been