After singing and dancing the tunes of “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from musical Hairspray, “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen and Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero,” performing arts students at Chapman University took their final bow on Saturday, Feb. 11, on behalf of the Orange-based university’s annual fundraising gala that features a Broadway-style show.
The event, Chapman Celebrates, is ending after a 40-year run where the university raised over $40 million for student scholarships.
“It’s a very expensive event to run,” Chapman President Daniele Struppa told the Business Journal. “It raises money for the students, but a significant amount of the money raised is used for the event itself. So it doesn’t seem, to me, that that is the best use.”
Its end marks the beginning of the university’s “largest and most ambitious” fundraising campaign to date: Inspire.
Inspire aims to more than double Chapman’s prior fundraising record to $500 million, which will go to the university’s academic research programs, student scholarships and on-campus renovations and expansions.
By comparison, California State University, Fullerton has raised over $270 million to date in its It Takes a Titan Campaign, while the University of California, Irvine has received $1.45 billion in donations for its Brilliant Future philanthropic initiative.
The Inspire campaign is led by Chapman Executive VP and Chief Advancement Officer Matt Parlow, Chapman Vice Chairman and ophthalmic industry veteran Jim Mazzo and Chapman Board Member Lisa Argyros, daughter of philanthropists and longtime university supporters George and Julia Argyros.
Over the past 10 years, the university has raised approximately $430 million in philanthropic funding, officials said.
Chapman ranks No. 121 in national universities on U.S. News & World Report, up from No. 125 in 2018.
The university’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, is No. 4 on The Hollywood Reporter’s ranking of best American film schools, a list created by the school’s dean, Stephen Galloway, when he was the executive editor of the publication.
Chapman, which currently counts 10,000 students, aims to grow enrollment to 12,000 over the next 15 years, Struppa said.
Decline in Gala Fundraising
The end of Chapman Celebrates comes as officials have observed changes in the philanthropic landscape.
“There are so many galas. I’m invited to one almost every week,” Struppa said. “There’s a certain amount of people who are tired of attending, when the commitment is really to the success of the students.”
Event-based fundraising has also seen an overall decline as some donors say they’re growing weary of attending galas.
“Many institutions, including us, have chosen to move away from event-based fundraising because events aren’t raising as much as they used to due to the costs going into them,” Parlow told the Business Journal.
That overall decline, Parlow theorized, can be attributed to generational differences between philanthropists. While traditional donors tend to enjoy going to fundraising events, new donors are less inclined to attend, Parlow said.
Mazzo has also observed another change in philanthropic activity over the years, noting that, among donors in higher education, interest in academic planning has increased.
“Donors used to just put their name on a building and feel good about it,” Mazzo told the Business Journal. “Now, they’re less concerned about their name on the building and more concerned about what’s going on inside the building, because that’s reflective of their money.”
63% of Goal Met
While Chapman’s campaign was only publicly announced Feb. 11, it actually began silently in 2017. It has since raised $315 million towards the $500 million goal.
As part of the recent celebration, the school revealed a $5 million gift from Jim and Kay Burra, who have been involved with Chapman since the 1990s, officials said.
Jim Burra is a member of Chapman’s board and leads the university’s investment committee, while Kay has been involved in Chapman Celebrates.
Their donation establishes the Burra School of Accounting and Finance in Chapman’s Argyros School of Business and Economics, which is ranked No. 72 in the business schools category on U.S. News & World Report. The new accounting program will help Chapman boost its business school ranking to top 50, a long-term goal for the university, officials said.
The existing $315 million in funding has also supported Chapman in its purchase of the Lydia D. Killefer School building, where the university plans to establish its Institute for Quantum Physics, in addition to an optics lab and a superconductivity lab.
The Killefer School, less than a mile from Chapman, has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places for being the first school in California to desegregate three years before Méndez v. Westminster forced Orange County to ban segregation in all schools.
Chapman officials said the university plans to honor the Killefer School’s history with a small memorial site. The university expects the renovations to the property will be complete by December of next year.
New Projects, Scholarships
Funding from Chapman’s new philanthropic campaign will also help the university meet its goal of increasing its endowment more than threefold to $2 billion by 2037.
“That’s not because I’m greedy and I want to have a lot of money in the bank,” Struppa said. “It will allow us to provide financial support to students who deserve to be here but cannot afford it.”
Over 85% of Chapman’s students have some form of financial support, according to Struppa. Undergraduate tuition at the university costs over $60,000 per year.
Chapman’s new campaign will also support the expansion of its graduate health science programs.
The university is currently looking to beef up the facilities at its Rinker Health Sciences campus in Irvine with a new Brain Institute, additional research centers and the renovation and expansion of the campus’ vivarium, where students perform studies on animals such as mice and rats.
Chapman’s Rinker campus vivarium, which currently runs 2,500 square feet, will more than triple in size to 7,600 square feet, according to plans from STEM building-focused architectural firm Hera Laboratory Partners. Other facilities that will be added, by the request of students, include dining and recreational areas.
Officials are also looking into adding or moving Chapman’s other graduate programs to the Rinker campus. New graduate programs under consideration include certifications in telehealth and VR for health professionals, as well as programs for clinical psychology and occupational therapy.
“We want to look at the whole digital revolution of healthcare,” Mazzo said. Gaming tech, especially VR, “can now be used for physicians. They can now simulate surgeries and become proficient with practice.
“We’re trying to embody the future of healthcare at Chapman,” Mazzo added.