Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Norma Mertz

Committee Members

Robert Cunningham, Dorian McCoy, Caula Beyl


The purpose of this study was to explore the factors that influenced the decision to enter into a $1 billion fundraising campaign by two public higher education institutions. The research was guided by two questions:

  1. What factors influenced the decision to enter into a $1 billion or more fundraising campaign in each of the two public higher education institutions?
  2. Were there factors shared by both institutions, and were differences apparent?

Data were collected from 14 in-depth interviews with presidents, vice presidents for development, fundraising volunteers, fundraising campaign consultants, and other members of the staff who were familiar with the factors that entered into the decision to set the fundraising campaign goal at $1 billion at the University of Tennessee and the University of Maryland College Park.

Four key factors common to both institutions emerged: Volunteers serving in fundraising roles for the university were very influential, volunteers serving in fundraising roles also served on the boards of oversight and used this position to influence the acceptance of the $1 billion campaign, prior fundraising success encouraged volunteers serving in fundraising roles to push for the $1 billion fundraising goal, and volunteer and administrative leadership ignored the $800 million recommendation of their consultant’s feasibility study. Fundraising volunteers appeared to have had considerably more influence at these institutions than any other single factor in entering into a $1 billion fundraising campaign. The findings are discussed in chapter 6, as are a discussion, methodological considerations, and recommendations for future research.

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