Column: Georgia Tech to unveil $1.5 billion fundraising campaign

By Maria Saporta
Friday, November 5, 2010

Georgia Tech — with a relatively new president and a new strategic plan — now has an ambitious fundraising campaign goal to match.

On Nov. 12, the university will launch the public phase of a $1.5 billion fundraising campaign that is being chaired by John Brock, CEO of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. So far, $925 million has been raised during the quiet phase of the campaign.

This is the largest goal, by far, that Georgia Tech has ever had.

Georgia Tech held its first major fundraising effort when it was celebrating its 100th anniversary. The Centennial Campaign took place from July 1983 to June 1988 with a $100 million goal. A total of $202.7 million was raised during that campaign.

The next campaign began in July 1995 with an initial goal of $300 million. That goal was raised three times in $100 million increments, and by the time it ended in December 2000, $712 million had been raised.

The current goal is more than twice that much, but the time line to raise that money also is longer. The quiet phase of the campaign began in July 2004 with an initial goal of $1 billion to be raised by December 2010. That phase of the campaign was headed by Alfred P. West Jr., who graduated from Georgia Tech in 1964 and co-founded SEI Investments in Oaks, Pa., in 1968.

Then this past summer, Georgia Tech leaders decided to extend and expand the campaign. Now the campaign is scheduled to wrap up in December 2015.

Georgia Tech was inspired to increase its campaign after Bud Peterson was appointed as its new president in April 2009.

Peterson then embarked on a new strategic planning effort that was released this past summer.

“With Bud Peterson coming on, we felt it was really important to step back and develop a new strategic plan for the next 25 years,” Brock said. “Georgia Tech will be the technological institution for the future. The capital campaign is very much supportive of the strategic plan.”

Barrett Carson, Tech’s vice president for development, said the strategic planning process provided a road map for the institution and its fundraising strategy.

“It made sense to extend the campaign, both in goal and time,” said Carson, who called the strategic plan a “living document.” He also said there were about 50,000 donors in the quiet phase of the campaign, so there was a strong base to build upon.

Peterson, who was out of town, sent this statement: “We are enormously grateful for the many individuals and organizations who will help us in our quest to reach the remarkable and aggressive goals we have set for Georgia Tech.”

Brock said that before accepting the role of chairing the public phase of the campaign, he received assurances from Peterson that he was making a “long-term commitment” to serve as president of Georgia Tech.

“Bud Peterson is one of the key reasons I took this assignment,” Brock said, describing Peterson as a “consummate professional” who excelled in academia, research and administration.

But Brock also has made a long-term commitment to Georgia Tech, through years of service on the presidential advisory board and the Georgia Tech Foundation.

When he was a high school student in a small town in Mississippi, he set his sights on Georgia Tech as his “dream college” to get a degree in chemical engineering.

“I got admitted, but unfortunately, I didn’t have money to attend,” Brock said. “I applied for financial aid, and on April 30, 1966, I got a letter saying that I had been awarded a scholarship. I certainly have had the view that I wanted to give back.”

Arkansas bound

One of Atlanta’s most progressive business leaders is leaving town. Pierre Ferrari, who most recently has been chairman of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream, has been named CEO of Heifer International, a global nonprofit leader of sustainable agricultural development for “smallholder farmers” that is based in Little Rock, Ark.

Ferrari had been a marketing executive with The Coca-Cola Co., before joining CARE for several years. Since then, he has been involved in a host of sustainable and socially oriented business ventures: The Small Enterprise Assistance Fund, Guayaki Sustainable Rainforest Products, Hot Fudge Social Venture Fund and numerous other business and civic entities.

On Heifer’s website, Ferrari is quoted as saying: “I am excited about and inspired by this incredible opportunity and just as much so by this amazing organization. But I now come along at a time where the urgency to end poverty is even greater. Heifer has a totally relevant set of values and model for today. My task will be to serve our various communities to empower more people much more rapidly, with a sense of passionate urgency.”

Too big to ignore

The Atlanta Women Foundation has made its Numbers Too Big to Ignore event true to its name.

At the annual luncheon on Oct. 28, the foundation received two milestone gifts. Kaiser Permanente celebrated its 25 years in Georgia with a $200,000 gift to the foundation for grants in women’s health. Plus, the health insurance firm also made a two-to-one challenge gift for another $50,000, which would bring its total gift to $250,000.

Also, Spanx celebrated its 10th anniversary with a $100,000 gift to the Atlanta Women’s Foundation from the Sara Blakely Foundation. Blakely is the founder of Spanx. Those dollars will be distributed in grants for economic empowerment, education and entrepreneurship.

The foundation has come a long way from its start in 1986 when it was given $10,000 from the Business Women’s Owners to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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