The University of Minnesota Law School has one overriding goal: to continue its tradition of excellence. Our students, faculty, programs, research, and clinics have made the Law School an institution of distinction. The fundraising campaign is undertaken to ensure the future of the Law School's high-quality education and service to the profession and the larger community.
Throughout most of the Law School's history, the state of Minnesota heavily subsidized the cost of a legal education. But that funding has declined steadily over recent years. State support now represents only a very small fraction of the Law School's total budget, and that fraction is directed entirely to the Law Library, a resource we share with the University and broader community. In recent years, several other top public law schools that faced dwindling state funding made the move to financial self-sufficiency. Now the Law School is making that transition—to funding based almost entirely on tuition and philanthropy. A successful campaign will enable us to continue and expand on our agenda of excellence.
Throughout the generations, the Law School has produced lawyers committed to excellence. We are proud of our long record of educating leaders who have gone on to represent the profession with distinction, serving in public office at the highest levels, leading and serving on boards of private enterprise, and tackling tough issues on behalf of their clients and the broader society. Our dedicated and generous alumni have a long history of giving back to the Law School by helping the next generation succeed. Alumni furnish mentoring, both one-on-one and through guest lectures. They offer networking opportunities, arrange externships and summer employment, volunteer as judges in student competitions, and share their expertise as adjunct faculty. The Generations theme recognizes the extent to which each generation builds on the work of past generations and lays the foundation for the success of future generations.
We have set a goal of $70 million to be raised over a five-year period: $30 million for scholarships and student support, $20 million for strategic initiatives, and $20 million for core support and unrestricted giving. At the launch of the public phase of the campaign on April 15, 2011, our alumni and other donors had already brought us halfway to our financial goal. We also seek to increase the percentage of alumni who participate in annual giving to 30% by the end of the campaign.
Our students face a larger financial burden than ever before. Our endowment, now approximately $90 million, does not meet student needs, so increases in tuition and University fees (7.4% in the 2011-12 academic year) are necessary. Even with the increase, our tuition remains near the bottom of our peer group. Still, without help, students face an onerous debt at graduation, which is why scholarship support is a principal goal of our campaign. To continue to recruit top students, we must be able to offer substantial financial support through student scholarships and fellowships. And when our students graduate, we want them to take the career path that is most meaningful to them, not the one that will most quickly pay down a burdensome debt.
To maintain its reputation as a top law school, we must recruit and retain the most able legal scholars and support superior faculty research in all areas. Endowed named chairs and professorships, one area of strategic initiative funding, honor distinguished current faculty members, attract renowned new faculty to permanent full-time positions, and ensure resources for programs and research opportunities in a particular area of importance, thereby fostering centers of national distinction. Our research institutes, another area of strategic initiative funding, provide leadership opportunities and enhanced learning for students, and heighten our prestige around the world through the quality of our faculty research. These and other strategic initiatives are critical components in our continued excellence.
Unrestricted giving helps support the Law School's day-to-day operations and allows us to maintain and respond to emerging needs and strategic opportunities. Unrestricted gifts free up other funding to support student scholarships, curriculum innovations, faculty research, and other projects.
The 16-member campaign cabinet is chaired by Bruce W. Mooty (’80) of Gray Plant Mooty Mooty & Bennett and co-vice-chaired by Elliot S. Kaplan (’61) of Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi and Kristine S. Erickson (’72) of Queenwood Capital Partners, LLC. The 13 additional members, from graduating classes ranging from 1956 to 1990, represent law firm, corporate, philanthropic, and other backgrounds.
The relationship between the Law School and the University will not change. We will continue to participate in interdisciplinary programs, joint and dual degree offerings, collaborative faculty research, and other benefits that come with being part of one of the nation's largest educational institutions. Our annual tuition must be approved by the University's Board of Regents, and we will continue to pay for and receive University services on the same terms as other units. Our mission, obligations, and responsibilities as a public law school will continue unaffected. In seeking a deeper and diversified base of support from the Law School community, we aspire to improve access to and affordability of one of the best legal educations anywhere. Only our revenue mix will change. Our role in the University will not.
Help us pass the torch of excellence to generations to come. Join us in supporting our campaign and our Law School.