University of Alabama sets fundraising record in fiscal 2019-20

University of Alabama sets fundraising record in fiscal 2019-20
The Performing Arts Academic Center will provide University of Alabama dance and theatre students with world-class venues and advanced equipment to hone their skills. (University of Alabama)

The University of Alabama saw its highest fundraising year in fiscal 2019-20, which included charitable gifts and pledges in excess of $222 million from nearly 60,000 donors.

The record fundraising represents an increase of more than $19 million from the previous fiscal year. It is the third consecutive fiscal year averaging gifts and pledges in excess of $200 million.

“Our donors and alumni have demonstrated their unwavering support and dedication to our University this year,” said UA President Stuart Bell. “With their ongoing generosity, we continue to advance and expand the educational opportunities for our students.”

Highlighting the success was reaching the $15 million fundraising goal to support construction of the new Performing Arts Academic Center. The PAAC, along with a fully restored Bryce Main building, will provide dance and theatre students with world-class venues and advanced equipment to hone their skills.

The successful drive to raise $15 million for the University of Alabama’s Performing Arts Academic Center, shown in a rendering, was one of UA’s major recent fundraising initiatives. (file)

“We agreed to chair the Campaign for the Performing Arts because we have always recognized the importance of the arts to society,” said Bill Battle, campaign co-chair. “When we saw the scope of the Performing Arts Academic Center combined with the restoration of Bryce Main, we knew it was something we had to be involved in.”

This facility will showcase the talent of UA students and attract larger audiences to enjoy performances. The 130,000-square-foot facility will include four performance theaters – a black box theater with flexible seating for 175 to 275 attendees, a 350-seat proscenium-style theater, a 450-seat venue designed for dance, and a dance studio theater with flexible space for rehearsals, recitals and smaller performances.

Donations to the campaign included a $5.25 million gift from an anonymous donor, a gift of $1.5 million from Robert and Laura Abernathy to name the grand lobby and 20 additional gifts of $100,000 or more.

“The campaign reached its goal of $15 million because alumni and friends understood the impact and gave generously,” said Mary Battle, campaign co-chair. “To each donor who has already given, we want to say thank you again. With your support, the university will have a state-of-the-art facility to prepare the next generation of artists. Your generosity has changed our campus forever.”

The University of Alabama’s Performing Arts Academic Center will connect to the Bryce Main building, pictured, which is being renovated. (The George Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

The restoration of Bryce Main, which will include the university’s new welcome center, is underway. Pending approval by the Board of Trustees, construction on the PAAC is expected to begin in spring 2022. A groundbreaking ceremony will be in spring 2021, if conditions permit.

“The PAAC will bring the University of Alabama theatre and dance programs to the forefront of artistic expression,” said Joseph Messina, dean of the UA College of Arts and Sciences. “Learning and performing in spaces that rival major performance venues across the country will provide an invaluable experience for students to seamlessly launch their careers and begin building their legacies. And with more space, the college will expand its outreach with the surrounding community and schools, enriching the area with even more opportunities to experience the many benefits of the arts.”

Gifts made toward the 2020 Bama Blitz online crowdfunding campaign played a role in the successful fundraising year. Bama Blitz, which occurred last month, highlighted how a large number of donors can make a distinctive impact on the university as 1,276 UA alumni and friends gave a total of $2.15 million.

Bama Blitz included gifts for the Tide Together Student Support Fund, which continues to offer assistance to students affected by the pandemic through support for housing, technology, travel and necessities.

“This has obviously been a challenging fundraising year,” said Vice President for Advancement Bob Pierce. “However, the circumstances further demonstrate the dedication of the UA faithful. Our alumni and donors are committed to the betterment of our students, regardless of the situation, and we remain grateful for their generous support.”

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

Related Stories