Campus & Community

A Letter from President Rudenstine

3 min read

January 21, 2000

Dear Alumni, Alumnae, and Friends,

I write with a simple purpose: to thank you, on behalf of the entire Harvard community, for taking part in the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the history of higher education.

By December 31, 1999, when the campaign drew to a close, 174,378 graduates and friends had given a total of $2.6 billion to the first university-wide fundraising effort in Harvard’s modern history, surpassing by a wide margin the original goal of $2.1 billion. Your unprecedented demonstration of support affirms our shared belief in the vital importance of education and research that is eloquent beyond words.

The fundamental measure of a campaign’s success, of course, lies not primarily in the number of dollars raised, but in the vastly strengthened educational programs and opportunities that will together shape the future of our university: programs and opportunities that will enable us to attract the best possible faculty, students, and staff to Harvard, and to provide them with the essential resources they need to do their very best work.

Thanks to the campaign, our financial aid programs are keeping Harvard’s doors fully open to undergraduate and graduate students of exceptional talent and promise. Dozens of newly endowed professorships are augmenting our educational capacity in fields both traditional and new. With farsighted help from alumni and friends, we are now far better equipped to meet the challenges of a strikingly more “internationalized” world, and to take creative advantage of the power of new information technologies to enhance and extend education and research.

The campaign has enabled Harvard to emerge even more strongly as a leader in the extraordinary scientific revolution unfolding before us, while also making possible major new academic resources in the humanities and the arts, in the social sciences, and across the professions. Not only has the campaign advanced the efforts of each individual faculty and school, each library and museum, but it has given added momentum to crossdisciplinary and interfaculty collaborations that are essential to our future.

It would take far more than a brief letter to describe the full scope of the campaign’s impact. Each student on financial aid, each participant in new courses and new programs, each scholar at the leading edge of discovery – indeed, each and every member of our academic community – has in some way benefited from the willingness of our graduates and friends to secure Harvard’s continuing excellence and its capacity for leadership and change. A comprehensive campaign report will be prepared soon.

For now, I simply want to recognize the campaign’s volunteer leaders for their remarkable energy and commitment, and to salute all of you who have contributed to the effort for your unprecedented generosity. The campaign we began more than five years ago could not have been imagined, much less carried to so successful a conclusion, without your ideas and your support. Like any great and enduring institution, Harvard is forever a work in progress. It is only with your confidence and engagement that we can continue to build on that progress, imaginatively and ambitiously, in the decades that lie ahead.

With many thanks, and warm wishes for the new year.


Neil L. Rudenstine