University of Florida alumnus Al Warrington kicked off the Go Greater with a $75 million gift in 2014. At the time it was the largest-ever donation in school history, but UF still had a long way to go to reach its $3 billion goal.
This week, UF announced Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation donated a record-breaking $100 million to UF Scripps. The gift meant the UF Scripps campus in Jupiter would be named after Herbert Wertheim, but it also pushed the eight-year Go Greater campaign over the $4.5 billion mark—50% higher than its original goal.
“Years from now when people look back on this chapter in UF’s story, a highlight will be the Gator Nation’s extraordinary generosity and far-sightedness,” UF President Kent Fuchs said in a Friday statement. “Alumni and friends from around the world came together like never before to support discoveries and innovations that will change the world, and to ensure that those educated on our campus will be the leaders of tomorrow.”
The university celebrated the $4.5 billion milestone this week, although two months remain before the official conclusion of the Go Greater campaign—the fourth in UF’s 169-year history.
More than 620,000 Gators made contributions to the grand total, which is the fifth-largest ever raised at a public university, the largest in the history of the state of Florida and the highest among SEC schools, according to UF.
Capping the campaign was this year’s record-smashing fundraising: UF reported more than $700 million given toward university projects and programs during the last 12 months.
Funds raised during the Go Greater campaign support scholarships and student programs, professors and research and campus infrastructure.
In all, Go Greater garnered almost 1 million unique gifts, while UF’s annual alumni giving rate climbed to 20%, one of the highest in academia. Along the way, UF’s donors established almost 200 new endowed faculty positions, added 600 scholarships and created 15 new teaching and learning centers, according to a university press release.
The Go Greater campaign coincided with and contributed to UF’s rise in national rankings—from No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of best public universities in 2014 to No. 5 now.
Some of the campaign’s notable gifts include:
- Al and Judy Warrington’s leadership gift in 2014 to kick off the Go Greater campaign.
- Herbie and Nicole Wertheim’s investment in the College of Engineering to launch a $300 million initiative that is revolutionizing engineering education and research. Their gift was the catalyst for the largest expansion in the college’s 100-year history. In recognition, the college was renamed in Herbie Wertheim’s honor.
- Chris and Melody Malachowsky’s pledge to help UF further its artificial intelligence innovation and training. Their investment named the campus Data Science and Information Technology building and is helping to integrate AI into teaching and research across academic majors.
- Elisabeth DeLuca’s gift of 27,000 acres in Osceola County is protecting one of the last natural areas of its kind and serves as a living classroom and laboratory. It is among the largest gifts of real estate ever to any university in the nation and includes cattle ranchlands, a citrus grove, ponds and forests.
- Bill Heavener’s leadership gift for UF’s new $85 million football training center, named in his honor. The 142,000-square-foot center includes meeting rooms, a strength-and-conditioning center, a dining hall and recreation space for student-athletes.
“Make no mistake, lives and communities everywhere are improved because of the work done at the University of Florida,” said Anita Zucker, chair of the UF Foundation’s executive board. “It’s because of their generosity — so amazingly illustrated through this year’s record-breaking giving — that we know our university will forever be a beacon of hope for people around the world.”