Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF surpasses its ambitious goal to raise $600 million

In the midst of a recession in 2009, University of South Florida officials set their most ambitious public fundraising goal ever — $600 million in donations.

They have finally hit that number, and then some.

The USF Foundation, a nonprofit entity that handles private gifts for USF, announced Wednesday that, as of June 30, the capital campaign surpassed $621 million from some of Tampa Bay's biggest benefactors.

The USF: Unstoppable campaign drew more than 140,000 donors, raising $34 million for faculty chairs and professorships and $325 million for academic programs. More than $75 million funded scholarships, including $1 million from USF president Judy Genshaft and her husband, Steven Greenbaum, for students to study abroad.

More than $170 million went to USF Health endeavors. Donations from Frank and Carol Morsani led to the naming of the Morsani College of Medicine and a new six-story health care building in their name. Almost $40 million went to USF athletics, much of it for facilities with donor names attached — the Pam and Les Muma Basketball Center, the Corbett Soccer Stadium, the Gonzmart Family Plaza, the Chowdhari Golf Center, the Frank Morsani Football Practice Complex. Tom James, executive chairman of Raymond James Financial, funded the forthcoming James Tennis Center.

An additional $140 million funded facilities, including the Patel Center for Global Solutions in Tampa and the Sembler Family Fountain and Plaza at USF St. Petersburg.

Four years before the official launch, USF officials lined up top donors and began raising starter funds, metaphorically padding the tip jar to encourage others to give. By the time the campaign went public in 2009, USF already had raised more than $300 million. USF alumni hosted parties. Fundraisers built relationships with donors, trying to decipher passions and motivations.

"It's a very scientific approach, but there's a lot of art to fundraising, too," said Joel Momberg, chief executive officer of the USF Foundation. "They could be an alum. They could be someone who sees the university as the economic engine for the area. You may work with that donor for months or maybe for a couple years."

But there was no denying the economic reality of the times, and donations lagged for two years of the campaign. The state suspended most donation matching, and some colleges scaled back or abandoned fundraising campaigns.

"We had to make some strong decisions whether we'd keep going or whether we'd stop the campaign," Momberg said.

Rather than pull out of promises, donors asked to wait until business got better or to give partial donations, he said. In 2011, the campaign turned around. Donations totaled more than $111 million in a single year.

"When you have a culture of giving the way we have with this campaign, you want it to continue," said Momberg. "There very likely will be an Unstoppable II."

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at or (813) 226-3394.

USF surpasses its ambitious goal to raise $600 million 07/10/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 10:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Martinez Middle School evacuated after bomb threat


    LUTZ — Bob Martinez Middle School has been evacuated after someone called in a bomb threat, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

  2. Another local Confederate display sparks division, this one over name of the war


    TAMPA — While the Hillsborough County commission was wrestling over the future of Confederate monument at the county courthouse, a lawsuit has been playing out in court over how best to represent the Civil War across town at Veterans Memorial Park.

    Supporters of a Civil War display at Veterans Memorial Park and Museum had a brochure made to attract donations. They argue in a lawsuit that their efforts were thwarted when the park's executive committee changed their plans.
  3. Myrtle Avenue closed, man hospitalized after Clearwater bike crash


    CLEARWATER — Myrtle Avenue is closed in both directions following a bicycle crash that hospitalized a man with serious injuries.

  4. 'Candle in the Wind' was the perfect song at a tragic moment

    Music & Concerts

    When's the last time you listened to the biggest pop single of the modern era?

    John’s recording of Something About the Way You Look Tonight/Candle in the Wind 1997 was certified eight times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in its first day of release in the United States.
  5. Rose Marie, star on 'Dick Van Dyke Show,' wins over Twitter at 94


    Today's must-follow Twitter account belongs to a 94-year-old actress whose 90-year(!) career spans back to the days of Vaudeville, making her one of that era's last surviving stars. 

    Rose Marie quickly gained thousands of followers with this plea.