Driven . . . President Kaler's words on the launch of a university-wide philanthropic campaign

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Good afternoon and welcome to the University of Minnesota! For the new freshmen on campus — and our friends in the news media — let me assure you, this is NOT how we typically celebrate Fridays. In fact, we haven’t done this sort of thing for 18 years.

Moments ago at the Board of Regents meeting, we announced the launch of Driven: The University of Minnesota CampaignThis is only the third time in our history that we’re conducting a University-wide fundraising campaign that supports our students on our five campuses, our faculty, the community, and the University’s ability to change lives throughout Minnesota and around the world. It’s a unified effort on all of our campuses — in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester and the Twin Cities — to raise private support for this public University, support that not only helps individual students, but will help us better deliver on our mission and our promise to every Minnesota citizen.
We have set a Driven campaign goal of raising $4 Billion Dollars over ten years.

Yes, it’s a big goal, but it clearly demonstrates our ambition and shows our commitment to doing more and doing better, for our neighbors across the street and around the globe.
Before I go on with the details of our campaign, I do want to pause for a moment and acknowledge the needs of others in our country. They are great and they are many.
Just look at the headlines, and I know our thoughts and concerns are with those who are facing all kinds of adversity and suffering.  Well, it is this fundamental concern for others and for the future of our students — our state, the nation and the world — that’s at the core of this campaign. It’s our concern and our belief that we owe it to the world to use our expertise to find solutions to our overwhelming grand challenges and to pursue learning and discoveries that transform lives . . . that save lives.

That’s what this
Driven campaign is all about, about supporting our students, conducting game-changing research, and engaging fully with communities to make this a better place to live.
Our campaign priorities do just that and they build on our strengths.

Here are the Driven campaign’s priorities.

For one, the University will continue to be a force for change as we Drive a Minnesota Plan for Innovation. For students, faculty, and industry partners, the U is an important center of invention where collaboration sparks new ideas, launches new businesses, and produces new jobs and talent.

We will tap some of that knowledge to Protect and Sustain Agriculture, Food, and WaterOur University footprint serves as a microcosm of our world, with UMD on America’s greatest lake, with our Twin Cities campuses on the greatest river, and our Morris and Crookston campuses on our greatest prairies. That enables us to help improve food safety and security, protect our natural resources like water, soil, and biodiversity, and minimize the impact of climate change.

Our campaign will also help us Accelerate Advances in HealthMore than 70 percent of all healthcare workers in Minnesota are trained on a U campus, and we have our state’s only schools of Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Veterinary Medicine. Our long history of medical firsts and interdisciplinary collaboration provide better treatment and quality of life for all Minnesotans, and path-breaking research that saves lives all over the world.

We are also driven to Provide a Place of Opportunity for Everyone. We’ll advocate for equity, justice, and opportunity through law, public affairs, and political science. And we’ll work to close Minnesota’s achievement gap and enrich our shared quality of life by bringing the arts into communities statewide.

Last — and my top priority for this campaign—is Elevating a World-class Student ExperienceThat doesn’t mean fancy dorms. That means more deserving students from Minnesota and around the world will receive scholarships and fellowships. That means more students will have the chance to study, work, and volunteer abroad.
And that means philanthropy will help more students benefit from real-world experiences and hands-on learning that prepares them for productive lives after college.
Students remain at the core of our mission. We transform their lives so that they can transform our communities, our state and our world. As we unveil our campaign to all of you today, we know that our neighbors, our community, and our corporate partners believe that what we do in service to Minnesota can help change the world. They have shown their support by already committing more than $2.5 Billion toward our $4 Billion campaign goal.

The people standing behind me and out here on the plaza represent just a few of the community leaders who support this campaign, and believe in our ability to make a difference when we work together. They also represent some of the thousands of beneficiaries of the Driven campaign:Students like Bentson, Buuck, and Larson Scholars who receive scholarship and fellowship support. Patients like 9-year-old Zuzia and her family from Poland, who can hug one another again after a life-changing new treatment at our Masonic Children’s Hospital. Can you give us a wave, Zuzia?

And then there are our faculty leaders who drive us forward with path-breaking research and a commitment to improve more lives. The singular achievements of our students and faculty become a priceless public good. Our investments ensure an educated population that is, in my view, the bedrock of our democracy.
Before I turn the podium over to Regent McMillan, let me end with where I started. The last time we launched a campaign to the public was 18 years ago, in 1999. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that most of our freshmen this fall were born that same year, 1999. They benefit from the legacy of the University’s last campaign, and the next generation of freshmen will benefit from Driven.

That’s why we’re doing this, and that’s why Driven is about generosity, possibility, and looking forward.