Together, We Lead

USD campus from Tecalote Canyon


Making a lasting impact is at the heart of Leading Change: The Campaign for USD. Since the fundraising drive began in 2010, the engine to achieve our ambitious $300 million goal has been in overdrive. Every step of the way, one underlying theme has fueled our efforts: to equip our students with the resources they need to become Changemakers who are driven to confront and solve humanity’s most urgent challenges.

Now, the numbers are in. Together, we did it.

Far exceeding its $300 million goal to benefit USD’s programs, faculty, facilities and students, Leading Change is the most successful campaign in the university’s history.

The milestones have been notable. More than $79 million was raised for capital projects such as the Belanich Engineering Center, and the Betty and Bob Beyster Institute for Nursing Research, Advance Practice, and Simulation. In excess of $55 million was raised to enhance the university’s endowment. More than $181 million was donated to support programs, centers and institutes, including the Karen and Tom Mulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action, the Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture and the Humanities Center.

The numbers are impressive: More than 38,500 donors contributed to reaching this milestone; 233 new scholarships have been created; employee giving increased to 79 percent from 2010’s 21 percent. None of it could have happened without the work of our alumni, faculty, trustees, parents and students.


When the campaign was first conceived, we knew that to continue USD’s upward trajectory, funds were needed to enhance the student experience; to provide endowment support for students in the form of scholarships, graduate assistantships and new programming and to reimagine ways that our physical campus could evolve and grow.

One early sign that Leading Change was on the right track was the transformative $20 million gift made by philanthropist Darlene Marcos Shiley in 2012 to establish the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering.

“My late husband, Donald, was, first and foremost, an engineer,” said Shiley, who joined USD’s Board of Trustees in 1990 and served as its chair from 2007 to 2010. “I am determined that his legacy reflects that beginning.”

2012 was also the year that a multimillion-dollar gift from Ron and Alexis Fowler was announced, and ground was broken on USD’s new baseball facility, Fowler Park and Cunningham Field. “The baseball facility at USD wasn’t consistent with the quality of the team and the reputation of the program,” Fowler said when explaining what inspired him to make the gift. “With a new facility, I think USD can achieve great things.”

In 2015, the opening of the new Betty and Bob Beyster Institute for Nursing Research, Advance Practice, and Simulation was celebrated. A lead gift of $8 million from Betty Beyster and the late Robert Beyster laid the foundation for the School of Nursing’s new 30,000-square-foot facility.


The milestones began to pile up. One hundred named scholarships were created to benefit School of Law students; the MacDonald Community Scholarship was established through the Mulvaney Center due to the generosity of Scott MacDonald; the campus was reimagined thanks to a gift from Kathryn Colachis to create Paseo de Colachis, a new central gathering place for events.

Also of note was a $20 million gift in 2017 from USD Board Chairman Don Knauss and his wife, Ellie, which launched the final planning and construction of a new USD School of Business complex. Even more recently, John and Rafaella ’61 (BA), ’77 (MA) Belanich announced a transformative $10 million gift to the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering to create an integrated facility that will be named the Belanich Engineering Center.

While the impact of major gifts is huge, we couldn’t have reached our goal without the help of the tens of thousands of alumni, parents, students, faculty, trustees and friends who stepped up and contributed every step of the way.

Now, as we look toward the 75th anniversary of our founding in 2024, the University of San Diego is poised to help create a world in which our students are prepared to make a lasting and positive impact on society. Our roadmap is the Envisioning 2024 strategic plan, which lays the foundation for the university’s future.

As we celebrate the successful completion of Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, we continue to look to the future. There’s really just one thing left to say.

Thank you.

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