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UNF hopes to raise $110 million to power transformation for students

Campaign kick off announces $65 million already raised toward goal

UNF sophomore political science major Thomas Sweat II had a tough childhood. To avoid homelessness, as a kid he lived with his mother in a drug-ridden neighborhood. He didn’t know how he would pay for college before he received the Hicks scholarship, which pays the full cost of his tuition, dormitory and meal plan.

Sweat and other students like him shared their stories Oct. 2 at UNF’s official kick off of “The Power of Transformation,” a fundraising campaign that hopes to raise $110 million for the university and its students.

Many scholarship recipients attended the event, mingling and talking with the other guests. Two students, including Sweat, gave speeches about their journey to UNF.

When Sweat spoke of his mother’s love through their financially difficult times, the 300 people in attendance gave her a standing ovation.

UNF senior philosophy major Jack Reece and UNF senior biology major Rasheda Likely both have scholarships that pay partial tuition. Stein wants to one day teach mathematics and Likely wants to get into Mayo Clinic’s graduate program next year, they said.

The Boathouse at the Student Union hosted a reception before the dinner and speeches began. After the reception, the UNF drum line escorted the group to UNF Arena.

Inside the Arena, the guests ate dinner before the rest of the event began. The whole event cost $150 per person. Half of that money went into the first generation scholarship fund.

After dinner, UNF President John Delaney discussed the “The Power of Transformation” initiative and the university’s long-term fundraising goals.

Delaney received applause after announcing the $110 million goal. He said he expects to have this full amount raised by Dec. 2012.

Before the announcement of the campaign reached the public, the university raised about $65 million toward this goal. Some of the money came from the state of Florida through fund-matching programs.

Although the purchase of the Museum of Contemporary Art — which UNF obtained in April — cost UNF $500,000, Delaney said that MOCA has created an entirely new set of donors for the campaign that previously only affiliated themselves with the museum.

Members from UNF Athletics were present at the event, including Athletic Director Lee Moon, baseball Head Coach Dusty Rhodes and Matt Kilcullen, assistant athletic director and previous head basketball coach.

Members of the Osprey Club — UNF Althetics’ personal fundraising organization — filled two tables at the event.

Kilcullen said that over his 11-year employment at UNF, he has noticed an increase in funding, even more so since Delaney became UNF’s president.

Although previous presidents had good fundraising prospects, Delaney’s position as the previous mayor of Jacksonville brought UNF donor opportunities it previously wouldn’t have had, Delaney said.

In a interview before the event, Delaney explained the giving process.

Donated money goes into something called an endowment, a bank account of funds that are then invested. UNF takes the interest or dividends earned from that account to cover operating expenses.

Since endowments are investments, the increases or decreases of the market subject donations and change accordingly once in the account, Delaney said.

He said 99 percent of gifts are restricted, which means that the donors decide where their money goes within the university.

“The perfect gift is non-restricted,” Delaney said.

Non-restricted gifts go straight into an endowment and can be used at the university’s discretion, he said.

Any gift – no matter how small – has the chance to grow through investment once in the endowment. Anyone can give online at alumni.unf.edu.

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