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Alumni Relations and Development


In the midst of an economic downturn that has created the biggest challenge to higher education fundraising in a generation or more, the University of Chicago has fared relatively well. Thanks to its generous worldwide community of alumni and friends, who continued their support at every level, the University raised $251 million in fiscal year 2010. On the heels of 2009’s all-time giving high, the number of donors rose by 9 percent. In all, 47,386 individuals and organizations made gifts to the University, extending an upward trajectory of engagement and philanthropic support crucial to UChicago’s future.

The April appointment of Thomas J. Farrell as the University’s vice president for alumni relations and development, effective July 1, underscored the link between community and philanthropy. As associate vice president for undergraduate and individual giving at the University of Pennsylvania, Farrell served as lead planner for Penn’s $3.5 billion Making History campaign. “A great university like the University of Chicago must be focused on both building community and encouraging philanthropy,” Farrell said, placing high priority on finding new ways to engage UChicago alumni around the globe.With the goal of engaging a majority of UChicago alumni in the life of the University through volunteerism, attendance at events, and philanthropic support, the Alumni Association Board of Governors and the Alumni Relations and Development Committee of the Board of Trustees worked to develop new opportunities and paths for alumni leadership. A new College Class Council program recruited more than 450 class leaders in 35 classes, and regional and international efforts were strengthened. The Volunteer Caucus, held in conjunction with the University’s 500th Convocation, brought together alumni from all parts of the institution. Alumni and other friends participated in a Washington, DC, forum on health and education, attended the Beijing announcement of the University’s new academic center there, and turned out in record numbers—more than 4,700—for June’s Alumni Weekend. Inspired by ambitious goals, the undergraduate giving participation rate reached 35 percent, and 81 percent of College fourth-years made a class gift, breaking previous University records.

Gifts That Enrich Lives


A $5 million gift from the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation brought to nearly $15 million the foundation’s support of UChicago’s work in urban education. The January gift funds efforts to improve public schools in the city and across the nation through the work of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute (UEI) and the Committee on Education.

Foundation chairman Charles Ashby Lewis is a University trustee; his wife, Penny Bender Sebring, is the founding codirector of the Consortium on Chicago School Research, UEI’s research arm. Both see UEI as part of a long-standing University tradition: As a result of the gift, Timothy Knowles, previously the Lewis-Sebring Director, was named the John Dewey Director of the Urban Education Institute and the John Dewey Clinical Professor in the Committee on Education. Dewey, an early member of the University faculty, established education as a field of scientific study—a “learning by doing” approach that UEIemploys in its efforts to produce reliably excellent schooling for children growing up in urban America.


On May 12, alumni, students, faculty, trustees, donors, and friends gathered for the groundbreaking of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. David Logan, AB’39, JD’41, and his family, whose 2007 gift made the building possible, were the honored guests at a ceremony hailing the start of a new arts community in Hyde Park. “The building is just the beginning,” Daniel Logan said, describing his father’s vision. “He’s interested in changing lives.”


In June, the University announced a $25 million gift from entrepreneur and investment manager John A. “Mac” McQuown and his wife, Leslie. In 1981, McQuown became a founding director at Dimensional Fund Advisors, a company cofounded by David Booth, MBA’71.

The McQuowns made their gift in appreciation of Eugene Fama, MBA’63, PhD’64, the Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at Chicago Booth, and McQuown’s longtime business associate and friend; and the late Merton Miller, a teacher and mentor to both McQuown and Fama. The gift will go toward a planned Fama-Miller Center within Chicago Booth, which will build on the school’s strong tradition of finance research.


Launched in 2008 by an anonymous gift of $100 million from a College alumnus, the Odyssey scholarship program aims to eliminate or reduce loans for UChicago undergraduates from low- or moderate-income families. More than 1,100 Odyssey Scholars now attend the College, and the award saves a low-income student, on average, nearly $35,000 in debt (including principal and interest), on top of already generous financial aid.

In making his landmark gift, the donor guaranteed $50 million, promising the balance when the University community met the challenge to endow the program in perpetuity. Through the combined efforts of more than 2,000 alumni, parents, and friends, the Challenge’s first, $38 million fundraising goal was met and exceeded in June, building a new endowment valued at more than $44 million.

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