For release: September 30, 2011
For press information, contact Bobby Prince, 901-678-3951
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.
Judy and Charles Burkett
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
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