Georgia Tech begins largest campaign in history; goal tops $2 billion

Georgia Tech kicked off a campaign to raise $2,147,483,647 over the next five years. Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech

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Georgia Tech kicked off a campaign to raise $2,147,483,647 over the next five years. Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech this week kicked off an effort to raise more than $2 billion to support scholarships, research, campus projects and more.

The school aims to raise the amount, its largest campaign to date, over the next five years. More than a quarter of the donations will be used to provide financial support to students.

“This is our most ambitious effort ever to raise money for scholarships,” said President Ángel Cabrera in a Wednesday interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We want to make sure that if you have talent, you’re at Georgia Tech.”

Georgia Tech, ranked the nation’s 10th best public national university by U.S. News & World Report, enrolled nearly 44,000 students in fall 2021, about 40% of whom are undergraduates. In recent years, the school has worked to increase the number of first-year Black and Hispanic students as well as women.

The estimated cost of attendance for first-year students for 2022-2023 is $28,166 for Georgia residents and $49,278 for those who live outside the state. In 2019, 37% of first-year students received need-based financial aid, according to the latest available data.

Cabrera, hired in 2019 to lead Georgia Tech, said expanding access to more students is a priority. Companies that recruit Georgia Tech graduates also want to hire people from all backgrounds, he said.

The campaign will raise money for need- and merit-based scholarships as well as invest in student entrepreneurship and international recruitment.

Philanthropy also will support faculty chairs and professorships, research facilities, intercollegiate athletics, campus enhancements, new global partnerships, and local programs that focus on science education in Atlanta high schools and in school districts around the state.

The research conducted at Georgia Tech aims to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, from cybersecurity to dealing with infectious diseases, Cabrera said. It also drives economic growth in Atlanta and Georgia, he said.

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Georgia Tech is not the only metro Atlanta university with an ambitious fundraising target. Last fall, Emory University announced the second phase of a $4 billion campaign. Earlier this year, Morehouse College announced a $500 million campaign. Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University also set goals recently to raise $250 million each.

Georgia Tech’s latest philanthropic push comes after it raised $1.8 billion in a campaign that concluded in 2015. That effort exceeded the university’s goal by $300 million, a spokesman said.

This time, officials considered a goal amount between $2 billion and $2.5 billion, a range based on the school’s needs and expectations of how much they could raise. As administrators discussed the two figures, an idea emerged that was unique to a school known for science, engineering and computing.

”There’s a very interesting number right in the middle,” Cabrera said.

The specific dollar amount? $2,147,483,647.

“This figure was the largest known prime number by mathematicians from 1772 to 1867 and in computer science it represents the largest value that a signed 32-bit integer field can hold,” Georgia Tech said in its announcement.

That, Cabrera said, “in pure Georgia Tech spirit” made the decision easy.