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Capital Campaign

Capital Campaign Launches

Susie Stalcup
Susie Stalcup
CUMC is now 18 months into a seven-year capital campaign, "Defining the Future," whose working goal is to raise $1 billion for the medical center's missions – education, research and clinical care. Susie Stalcup, vice president for development for CUMC, is leading this effort along with campaign chair, P. Roy Vagelos, M.D. InVivo spoke with Ms. Stalcup recently about the campaign.

How is the campaign doing to this point?

We're off to a strong start. In 18 months, we've crossed the $300 million mark in contributions and pledges. We're extremely grateful to our faculty, alumni and other donors for support of our missions – education, research and clinical care.

Is this the first time the medical center has had a capital campaign?

The medical center has a strong history of fund-raising activity. But this is the first comprehensive campaign, emerging from a strategic planning process utilizing a volunteer framework to raise funds for specific priorities.

During this campaign we have the opportunity to widely, broadly, and repeatedly tell CUMC's story and to highlight those specific objectives that will help advance our missions. We believe that our philanthropic partners will understand and agree with the vision we have for the future of the medical campus, and help to fund the strategic priorities.

CUMC's campaign is taking place concurrently with Columbia University's. Is there synergy between the campaigns?

CUMC's capital campaign, which began on July 1, 2003, is part of Columbia University's capital campaign, which began a year later on July 1, 2004. We're benefiting tremendously from the synergy of campaign planning, volunteer enlistment, trustee support, partnership and philanthropy.

We're a strong partner with the university in many ways and fund raising is certainly an example of that. Over the past 10 years, medical center fund raising has represented 35 percent to 50 percent of Columbia University's total fund-raising activity. In 2004, CUMC had a record year where our contributions to the university's fund raising accounted for more than half of all monies raised.

You're in the "quiet phase" of the campaign now. What does that mean?

That's considered the time before the campaign is formally announced to the general public. A "campaign" simply is the timeframe where there is a focused fund-raising effort that is targeted at very specific goals and objectives. There is nothing magical about the term "campaign," except that it provides a catalyst for everyone and creates energy and momentum on the part of the faculty, volunteers and fund-raising staff to really push for specific goals. It's a time when we're working with a laser-like focus to accomplish the most and achieve the greatest benefit. We are probably a year away from publicly announcing the campaign.  At that point, there will be a kickoff event, and we hope to have more than 50 percent of the goal completed.

What is the roadmap for the campaign?

A campaign results from a strategic planning process. Executive Vice President Dr. Gerald Fischbach and about 300 faculty, staff, students, residents and fellows developed a comprehensive plan that serves as the framework for building on the excellence that is already here. That planning process identified more than $1.8 billion in needs. Further input from faculty helped with the prioritization of most urgent needs and greatest opportunities.

Describe how a Capital Campaign works.

A campaign is simply an organized, intensive fund-raising effort to secure extraordinary gifts and pledges for specific purposes during a specified period. It is a time of coming together to accomplish ambitious, strategic goals on behalf of the institution. This is done by engaging faculty, alumni, trustees, volunteers, and thousands of donors and potential donors in support of CUMC priorities. Philanthropy is a voluntary activity, and it is incumbent upon us to convey the compelling case for supporting CUMC faculty and programs.

Has it become harder to raise funds these days, given the urgent needs in so many areas and so many parts of the world?

It's a competitive "giving" environment and there are many, many worthy causes. Still, I find that people who are philanthropically inclined tend to support multiple organizations and causes. That's why it's important for us to do an excellent job stewarding our donors as well as continuing to make the case for their support going forward.

How would you identity our most urgent needs?

We have many needs for Physicians & Surgeons, School of Nursing, Mailman School of Public Health and the School of Dental and Oral Surgery. The paradigm shift of managed health care, increased costs such as malpractice insurance, declining trends of NIH funding combine to reinforce the importance of engaging many philanthropic partners in our enterprise. Public Health and Nursing have large capital needs for building renovation. Across all schools, resources are needed for student financial aid, the Glenda Garvey Teaching Academy, education facilities, and support for faculty educators. In research, there is need for faculty and post-doc support and programmatic support for genomics, stem cell, cancer, cardiovascular, chemical biology – to name a few. Clinical departments need improved ambulatory space, faculty support and recruitment funds. And highly important, the Priorities Fund, which is largely targeted for recruitment.