EDMOND — A $40 million fundraising campaign was announced just this week, but the University of Central Oklahoma already is more than three-fourths of the way to its goal.
UCO kicked off its Always Central campaign Tuesday. The announcement marked the opening of the public phase of the campaign, but the drive already has received $30.4 million in donations.
Those donations came during the campaign's silent phase, in which organizers sought contributions from a few major donors. That phase began in 2008, said Reagan Hamlin, UCO Foundation spokeswoman. The university will wrap up the campaign in June 2014.
Donations given during the silent phase came primarily from alumni and corporate donors, said campaign co-chairman Lee Beasley.
Beasley said he was encouraged to see the campaign begin its public phase with such a large sum raised.
“It's overwhelming,” he said. “The alumni have really stepped up.”
Many of the donors during the silent phase were Oklahoma City companies that employ UCO graduates, said Sherry Beasley, who is a campaign co-chairwoman.
Because of UCO's status as a metropolitan university, she said, many of its graduates stay in the Oklahoma City area to work, and 85 percent of graduates stay in Oklahoma.
The campaign is the first campuswide fundraising initiative UCO has launched, said Lee Beasley, although individual colleges and programs within the university have had fund drives.
Role of fundraising
UCO's campaign may be the first the university has launched, but it's not the only one of its kind in the state. Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma have similar campaigns to support scholarships, campus building projects and other efforts.
Fundraising is becoming more important for colleges and universities, Lee Beasley said. When enrollment growth outpaces state funding, he said, public universities are forced to look elsewhere to make up the difference.
Funds raised will affect many areas of the university, Lee Beasley said. Funds will go toward scholarships, endowed chairs, new academic programs and other efforts.
The campaign will fund major campus construction and improvement projects, he said, including Old North renovations and constructing a boathouse on the Oklahoma River.
The university in 2007 announced plans to build the boathouse east of the Chesapeake Boathouse for use by the UCO rowing team, as well as the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.
University officials initially expected the boathouse to be complete by 2008. UCO spokeswoman Adrienne Nobles said university officials later decided to wait to begin construction until all needed funding was in place.