IU launches historic $2.5B bicentennial campaign, announces $20M gift from David H. Jacobs

  • Sept. 28, 2015


Editor's note: Interviews about the bicentennial campaign and b-roll from the donor event are available online for media to download.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University launched the public phase of its first-ever university-wide philanthropic campaign with a donor event Sept. 26 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign has set a record goal of $2.5 billion to be raised by 2020.

“The bold goals of the bicentennial campaign, which are the most ambitious in Indiana University's history and among the largest ever by a public university, will set Indiana University on the course for greatness in its third century," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "Built on our strategic priorities, this unprecedented undertaking will fulfill IU’s promise to change the way we live through path-breaking research, innovative academic programs, unparalleled international engagement and an accessible and exceptionally valuable education."

To date, the campaign has raised nearly $1.2 billion with the participation of almost 204,000 donors, McRobbie said.

The For All campaign will support four broad university priorities that reflect the central goals of The Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University, approved by IU trustees last year. The priorities are: enabling student success and support; creating the next generation of global leaders; recruiting and retaining the best and most creative faculty who will lead the discoveries and innovations that transform how we live; and creating a healthier state, nation and world.

Support for the campaign will help provide scholarships that keep an IU education affordable for greater numbers of students and enable them to graduate with as little debt as possible. It will also enable overseas study and global academic programs, career development, diversity and community service initiatives, faculty professorships and chairs, research infrastructure, patient care innovations and public health advancements on all IU campuses.

"With this campaign, we are building on a proud and long legacy of philanthropic giving and alumni engagement," McRobbie said. "Our exceptionally generous supporters have consistently shown that they value the world-class education IU provides and the enormous impact the university has on the economic development of our state, nation and world, and we are enthusiastic about launching this ambitious campaign."

McRobbie noted that the For All campaign, which involves all of IU's campuses across the state, represents IU's first true "university-wide" campaign. He added that the contributions made by members of the IU community, including alumni, faculty and staff, will ensure IU continues its growth and further cements its position as one of the great public research universities of the world.

"We are proud to lead this ambitious endeavor and are confident that our generous alumni and friends will embrace the university's commitment to address society’s most critical needs and educate our future leaders," said IU Foundation President Dan Smith. "By uniting us in support of the university, the campaign provides us all the chance to help write the next chapter of IU's great story."

Smith stressed the significance of the campaign name: For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign. "The theme reminds us that Indiana University is celebrating two centuries of making a difference in the world, and that this campaign is 'for all' the lives that IU will continue to improve," Smith said. "'For all' also represents the IU alumni and friends who, through gifts of all sizes, provide IU the resources necessary to pursue knowledge, advance innovation and provide access to education for many years to come."

David H. Jacobs' $20 Million Surprise

During the campaign launch celebration at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, David Henry Jacobs surprised attendees by announcing a $20 million gift to the Jacobs School of Music, which offers students a breadth and depth of musical training, education and performance opportunity unparalleled in university music study.

"Our relationship with David is, by far, his greatest gift to us. His desire to support our mission is only surpassed by his generosity of spirit," Jacobs School of Music Dean Gwyn Richards said. "This exceptional gift places within our reach aspirational goals we have in performance, pedagogy and scholarship. Beyond his extraordinary generosity, David is truly an inspiration through his leadership, passion and partnership with the school."

Jacobs attended the Jacobs School of Music in the early 1970s and was the driving force behind the $40.6 million gift his mother, Barbara, gave the school in 2005 in honor of his father, David H. Jacobs. In addition to the Jacobs School of Music, Jacobs has supported several programs at IU, including the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the IU Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Alumni Association, the Maurer School of Law and the Kinsey Institute. Jacobs has been a member of the IU Foundation's board of directors since 2006 and is a founding member of the Women's Philanthropy Leadership Council. He is president of David Jacobs Fine Art and owner of Stilllife Construction.

"Indiana University, and particularly the music school, gave me a community. I feel fortunate for those relationships and it is rewarding to give back," Jacobs said. "I hope other friends and alumni who are able to do so will also rise to the challenges and exciting opportunities presented by this ambitious campaign. Collectively, we have the ability to make a difference in the world on a scale like never before."

The $20 million gift will establish endowments to provide long-term funding for a deanship, faculty support, research development, scholarships, student travel, library needs and other Jacobs School of Music initiatives. The majority of the gift will fund the Jacobs Family Bicentennial Scholars and Fellows in Honor of Charles H. Webb, which recognizes the lifelong friendship Jacobs has with Emeritus Dean Charles Webb and his family.

"I couldn't have been more honored and surprised by this recognition. And I was thrilled to hear that David chose student scholarships for a major part of this gift," Webb said. "We have students from every state and 50 countries attending the school, and many don't come with the kind of resources they need to really push their academic boundaries. These scholarships will enable these talented young musicians to truly drink in the educational knowledge available from our outstanding faculty."

Campaign Progress and Notable Gifts

The $20 million gift from Jacobs brings the current campaign total to nearly $1.2 billion, which includes gifts received during the initial phase of the campaign. Several other individuals and organizations have made notable campaign gifts, including:

  • IU alumna Cindy Simon Skjodt, who gave a historic $40 million gift to IU Athletics to renovate Assembly Hall.
  • Eli Lilly and Company, which, along with its charitable arm the Lilly Foundation, committed nearly $25 million to the AMPATH (Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare) program, a partnership between Kenya’s Moi University School of Medicine, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, and a consortium of North American academic health centers led by the IU School of Medicine.
  • IU alumnus Lowell E. Baier, who gave a $20 million gift for the Maurer School of Law.
  • The Vera Bradley Foundation, which pledged a $15 million gift to the IU Simon Cancer Center to continue funding the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Laboratories, named for the foundation in 2010.

In addition to these campaign gifts, the following notable grants from Lilly Endowment Inc. were made within this four-year period: $33 million to transform IU Kelley School of Business' undergraduate program and $10 million to enhance IUPUI, IU Natatorium and surrounding neighborhoods as part of a $30 million project. 

For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign is taking place at all IU-administered campuses: IU Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, IU East, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend and IU Southeast. The campaign will conclude in December 2019 to coincide with IU’s bicentennial year celebration in 2020.

To learn more about the campaign, its impact and how to participate, please visit

Founded in 1936, the Indiana University Foundation maximizes private support for Indiana University by fostering lifelong relationships with key stakeholders and providing advancement leadership and fundraising services for campuses and units across the university. Today, the IU Foundation oversees one of the largest public university endowments in the country, with a market value in excess of $1.9 billion. In fiscal year 2015, IU received $359.3 million in support from the private sector. IU is consistently ranked among the top four of Big Ten universities in annual voluntary support.

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