Eight years ago, Florida State University embarked on the most ambitious fundraising effort in its history. Raise the Torch: The Campaign for Florida State was launched to attract $1 billion in philanthropic support to implement bold ideas that would continue to distinguish Florida State as a preeminent university and positively affect the future for students, faculty and alumni.
Having now leapt past the finish line with a total of $1,158,665,865 in gifts received, the successful completion of Raise the Torch continues the maturation of Florida State into one of the nation’s elite public research universities, and showcases a loyal base of alumni and friends willing and able to support the vision of the university in a way that will impact generations to come.
“The incredible outpouring of support from the FSU family from the start ensured this campaign would have a successful conclusion,” said FSU President John Thrasher. “We are overwhelmed and grateful for such generosity because of the impact it will have on future generations of students and society as a whole.”
The successful campaign is just the latest reason Seminoles are smiling. FSU is at the top of state rankings in a number of key categories. In addition to having the highest four-year graduation rate of any public university in Florida’s history, the university leads the state in percentage of alumni giving back and National Science Foundation research and development expenditures. Nationally, FSU soared in the U.S. News & World Report rankings during Raise the Torch, and prospective students are taking notice as evidenced by a record 51,000 applicants last year.
With the overwhelming success of Raise the Torch, as well as continued preeminence and performance funding from the state of Florida, the future of the institution is as bright as it has ever been.
“Florida State will remain a dynamic economic engine for the state and beyond,” Thrasher said. “Our faculty members are doing amazing work in the fine and performing arts, the sciences and humanities, and they push our students to excel both inside and outside of the classroom.”
Inspire, Engage and Transform the Next Generation of Students
During Raise the Torch, 1,304 scholarships were created or enhanced that will directly benefit the educational pursuits of exceptional scholars from every corner of the state and country, and from around the world.
Awards such as the Joyce B. and Bob L. Miles Scholarship in Human Sciences aid Florida State University College of Human Sciences students financially but also provide another valuable resource—academic and career guidance from the scholarship donors.
Joyce Miles, a consumer and family sciences alumna of Purdue University with a master’s in vocational education from Florida State, and her husband, Bob, an engineering alumnus of Purdue, saw their first scholarship awarded to Amanda Messingschlager, a senior family and child sciences major.
“We met with Amanda on campus and asked if there were any challenges that we could help with,” Joyce said.
With plans of attending graduate school for occupational therapy, Messingschlager accepted Joyce and Bob’s offer and asked them to write her a recommendation letter and review her resume.
“Not many students are lucky enough to meet the founder of their scholarship and receive additional help from them like I was able to,” she said. “I felt like this made me stand out a little more in the [graduate school] application process because I was able to build a personal relationship with someone other than professors.”
Power a Great University to New Academic Heights
Preeminent universities are distinguished by the quality of their faculty. FSU faculty members have been recognized with prestigious awards and distinctions, including:
- Guggenheim Fellows;
- Nobel Prizes;
- Fulbright Awards;
- Oscar, Tony and Emmy Awards; and
- Pulitzer Prizes.
This fall, FSU welcomed 240 new faculty members, completing the largest faculty hiring initiative in university history. Additionally, through Raise the Torch, 94 professorships were created or enhanced that will help FSU continue to recruit and retain world-class faculty.
One example is the J. Harold and Barbara M. Chastain Eminent Scholar Chair in Real Estate, which is housed in the Department of Risk Management/Insurance, Real Estate and Legal Studies in FSU’s College of Business. The Chastain’s pledged additional support to their fund during the campaign, making it the largest endowed faculty research position in the College of Business. J. Harold Chastain said he is hopeful the additional funding will continue to make the Chastain Chair relevant in the years ahead.
“Whatever successes I have enjoyed, I owe in large part to Florida State University,” he said. “If our financial endowment helps play a small part in the national recognition of FSU’s real estate program as one of the country’s very best, then we have accomplished our objective and been generously rewarded.”
Encourage Innovation, Creativity and Discovery
Raise the Torchwill always be remembered for the creation of the nation’s largest interdisciplinary, degree-granting school of entrepreneurship, which would not have been possible without private support, particularly from Jan Moran and The Jim Moran Foundation, who generously provided a $100 million gift.
Not only did this transformative gift provide funds to start and sustain the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship, it also offered additional support to the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, a program long supported by Mrs. Moran and The Jim Moran Foundation. This gift has allowed FSU to greatly expand the entrepreneurship courses offered to its students and become a go-to resource for government leaders, trade associations, entrepreneurs, nonprofits and small businesses on a national level.
“We are forever grateful to Jan Moran and The Jim Moran Foundation for the $100 million gift that established this new school,” Thrasher said. “To put that in perspective, this $100 million gift is the largest single gift to a public university in the history of the state of Florida.”
Improve the Public Good
FSU is utilizing its faculty’s experience and students’ innovation to explore some of the most pressing issues facing society today. The university seeks to accomplish this goal through every discipline represented on campus, including social work, race and gender studies, business ethics, public policy, music therapy and others.
Additionally, Florida State’s medical researchers are exploring some of society’s most vexing health issues, from patient safety to autism and brain science to the Zika virus, where FSU scientists are working with the Florida Department of Health as part of a state initiative to develop treatment and prevention methods related to the deadly disease.
“The research conducted by our faculty will help move the needle as scientists and doctors work to find a cure for this devastating disease,” said Associate Vice President for Research Ross Ellington.
It’s not just the medical scientists at Florida State who are conducting groundbreaking research, so are hundreds of other faculty in areas such as high performance materials, coastal and marine science, aero-propulsion and advanced power systems. The collective efforts resulted in the second highest year for research funding in university history this past year.
“What these dollars represent is the dedication by researchers to do work that improves the human condition,” Vice President for Research Gary Ostrander said. “Researchers are working on treatments for Alzheimer’s and cancer. They’re developing new technologies that can improve our daily lives and change our world.”
The trajectory of Florida State University has never been more positive. Already a preeminent university, soon FSU will achieve its goal of becoming a top 25 public research institution in America.
“Just as our world is always advancing, so too is Florida State,” said Thrasher. “It took a concerted effort from students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends to reach these new heights, and with their sustained support we’ll continue to be viewed as leaders in higher education. The difference between a good university and a truly great one is private philanthropy and I am amazed by the passion of our community in this regard, and what it means for the future of Florida State.”