Chapman aims to raise $500 million over next decade


Over the past decade, Chapman has steadily increased its philanthropic support. Graphic by Emma Stessman

After a record-breaking philanthropic year in 2017, when Chapman received its highest-ever philanthropic support at $109 million, President Daniele Struppa revealed his goal in February to raise $500 million for the university over the next seven to 10 years.

When Struppa stepped from provost to president, Sheryl Bourgeois, the executive vice president of university advancement, knew that there was worry Struppa would not be able to raise as much money as President Emeritus Jim Doti did. Doti generated $570 million during his tenure as university president from 1991 to 2016.

But both are successful in engaging with investors, she said.

“While (Struppa) might seem to be more aligned with the sciences … they both bring to their roles this wonderfully personable, genuine sincerity that helps attract people that want to invest (in the university).”

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For the record-breaking $109 million last year, bigger events like Chapman Celebrates, which has drawn guests like the Duffer Brothers and raised more than $35 million since the fundraiser’s first year, are responsible for the majority of donations.

Bourgeois also said smaller amounts, totaling approximately $5 million, are raised through mail donations, “phone-a-thon” fundraisers and direct solicitation, where people are contacted and asked for support.

Another large part of Chapman’s financial support comes from contributions to large projects — such as the Musco Center for the Arts— that expand the university.
“The lion’s share (of philanthropic funds) comes from capital projects,” Bourgeois said.

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For the new Keck Center for Science and Engineering, she said, Chapman received official pledges totaling about $80 million, along with a $45 million commitment from Dale and Sarah Ann Fowler in 2017, making them the university’s largest single donors. Chapman’s new engineering school will bear the Fowlers’ name.

Struppa’s techniques for raising money vary, but one of his methods is looking at an investor’s interests and determining what they’d like to see from the university. Fundraising is focused on certain academic departments that the donor is interested in, as opposed to the whole university.

“It is important to work with people to identify areas where they believe they can make a difference,” he said. “When you have someone who is passionate about the arts, they would be happy to support the Musco Center, so one of our fundraising trusts is an endowment that would allow the Musco Center to operate in the future.”

Struppa also talked about events that Chapman organizes in hopes of raising more money for the university.

“Every other year, we do a presidential tour … A group of 30 to 35 friends of the university will (travel to a foreign destination). This September, we’re going to France,” he said. “We go there and simply socialize, (which) is a big part of our way to grow friendships toward the institution.”

In addition to tours, Struppa said dinners and special performances are thrown for investors and friends of the university, who are people who have a close association with Chapman and may have donated in the past.

The University Advancement team is already planning for the next 10 years of fundraising, with the end goal of reaching $500 million.

While Bourgeois said Chapman already has strong philanthropic ground in cities like Seattle, Portland and New York City, new outreach — both within the U.S. and places abroad like the United Arab Emirates — is planned for the coming years.

Fundraising efforts will also be directed toward Chapman alumni who may want to give back. Most philanthropic donations come from business or engineering graduates, Bourgeois said.

“A large percentage of (our relatively young alumni) are just now reaching that high-earning capacity and getting to the point where they may be thinking of being philanthropic,” Bourgeois said. “We’re going to look at (the relationship between Chapman and its alumni) as a way of really building amongst that population.”