Campaign spurs record year in private giving
Wilkins shares biotechnology success

Campaign spurs record year in private giving

Performing like a world-class sprinter with a tail wind, the Campaign for Virginia Tech has nearly reached the finish line with one year still remaining in its six-year run. The campaign closed the 1996-97 fiscal year on June 30 at $248.5 million, just shy of its $250-million goal. The year-end result is $56.5 million more than the 1995-96 year-end total for the campaign. Strong donor support also propelled major areas of the campaign either beyond or to within reach of their dollar targets.

Compounding the good news was the university's record year in private giving. The 12-month period produced $43.2 million in gifts and commitments. That surpasses the $41.7 million received from the private sector in fiscal year 1994-95, a year that included an $8.3-million gift from the estate of Horace Fralin.

Alumni continue to be the university's most generous group of benefactors, contributing $20.2 million, while endowment and current operations received the greatest share of financial support with $16.9 million and $15.2 million, respectively. Among colleges, the College of Engineering topped the fund-raising chart, as alumni, friends, and others gave more than $6.6 million.

The campaign's report card shows high marks in almost every category. Permanent endowment, which represents exactly one-half of the overall goal, has reached $120.1 million and is now at 96 percent of its $125-million goal. Campaign support helped to push the market value of the university's endowment to more than $255.5 million. The current operations portion of the campaign has exceeded its $60-million objective, with more than $69 million in funds. The other two primary focuses of the campaign -- facilities/equipment and research -- moved closer to their respective goals of $35 million and $30 million, albeit at a slower pace.

"Not only was it a superb year in terms of dollars raised," says Charles Steger, vice president for development and university relations. "It was a year we received widespread support from donors." Steger points out that the university has made a concerted effort to strengthen ties to younger alumni, parents, and friends and to forge stronger relationships with corporations and foundations. "It's a far more competitive world for fund raising than it was just five years ago," he stresses. "The relationships we establish with donor constituencies are pivotal to future fund-raising success."

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Wilkins shares biotechnology success

Tracy Wilkins knows how to clone success. The director of the Fralin Biotechnology Center has founded two successful biotechnology start-up firms. In 1996, one of those firms -- TransPharm, Inc. -- merged with PPL Therapeutics PLC, of Edinburgh, Scotland, the company that cloned a sheep named Dolly.

Now Wilkins is sharing his good fortune with Virgina Tech by contributing a gift of PPL Theraupeutics stock valued at more than $259,000.

One part of the gift will establish undergraduate summer research fellowships to give students hands-on experience in the Fralin Center laboratories. Several fellowships were funded this summer. Another portion will support the university's horticultural gardens, an area of special interest to Wilkins and his wife. The balance of the funds will be set aside in order to determine where they might best support the university's biotechnology work.

"Virginia Tech has always encouraged me and been very supportive of my business ventures," Wilkins says. "It seems only fitting that the university share in my success."

Wilkins is also president of TechLab, Inc., another biotechnology firm located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.

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