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U of M Announces Major Campaign to Coincide with its Centennial

For release: September 30, 2011
For press information, contact Bobby Prince, 901-678-3951

Judy and Charles Burkett
Judy and Charles Burkett
The University of Memphis has launched the most ambitious fundraising initiative in its 100 year history – Empowering the Dream, a comprehensive campaign with a goal of $250 million. The formal public announcement of the campaign was made Sept. 30 by U of M alumnus Charles Burkett at a dinner before the University’s Centennial Kickoff Concert, sponsored by First Tennessee Foundation, at the Cannon Center.

Burkett and his wife, Judy, are co-chairs of the Empowering the Dream campaign.  He also serves as chairman of the University’s Board of Visitors.

Burkett announced that the ‘quiet’ phase of the campaign has already raised more than $185 million, which is 74 percent of the ultimate quarter-billion-dollar goal.

“The timing of this campaign is ideal,” Burkett said, “because it coincides with the University’s celebration of its Centennial anniversary.  When you look at what’s happening at the University of Memphis – its steadily increasing student body and the rising academic qualifications of its students, its successful recruitment, retention, and support of outstanding faculty, and its revitalized and beautified campus – you can’t help but want to be involved in the University’s future.  I want to be a supporter of that future, and I believe that many other people do, as well.  I am proud to be involved in a project that will ensure the University’s continued progress.”

The Empowering the Dream Campaign will emphasize funding to:

Endow scholarships and fellowships to enable the University to be a first choice for talented prospective students;

Support faculty so the University can continue to attract leading scholars and so at least ten percent of its faculty can be supported through named, endowed professorships and chairs; and

Offer students and faculty facilities that create an environment conducive to learning, research, and community engagement in the 21st century.

The University is actively engaged in securing funds for three additional facilities – a consolidated building for the Loewenberg School of Nursing and the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, a music center, and an indoor football practice facility.  A portion of the funds already raised includes more than $12 million for the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and the move to its Downtown location.

U of M President Shirley Raines stressed the importance of the Centennial campaign’s success.  “In addition to Charles and Judy Burkett, more than 120 individuals and couples are involved in this campaign through their leadership,” she said.  “Their endorsements and enthusiasm for the role of a major metropolitan university are encouraging to our almost 2,500 employees and 23,000 students.  These community leaders realize that when the University of Memphis succeeds, the city of Memphis benefits, and so do the state and the region.

“The University has experienced tremendous growth in its first century, with record enrollments, new facilities, and productive community and philanthropic partnerships.  But the best is yet to come.  As we announce the Empowering the Dream Campaign, the vision has never been clearer, the potential has never been greater, and the future has never been brighter for the University of Memphis.”

Empowering the Dream will continue through June 30, 2013.  More information about the campaign and ways to contribute are available online at

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