The U launches a campaign to fund faculty, research, outreach, and student support

In early September, under a bright blue sky, U of M President Eric Kaler announced the public phase of Driven, the U’s first major, system-wide fundraising campaign in 18 years, and only the third in its history. The campaign, which launched an initial phase in 2011, aims to raise $4 billion by 2021—it’s already more than halfway there—and promises big accomplishments.

The effort will support the U’s ability to “change lives throughout Minnesota and around the world,” said Kaler, standing outside the McNamara Alumni Center, surrounded by a brass band, cheerleaders, and various mascots including Goldy. It will fund faculty and research, outreach, and student education, allowing the U to engage “fully with the community to make this a better place to live.”

Driven will support endeavors in a variety of areas, including agriculture, water availability, human and animal health, and addressing the state’s achievement gap. But a top priority, according to Kaler, is to assist students through scholarships, fellowships, and experiential learning programs. Already, since 2011, contributors have funded some 700 new undergraduate scholarships. “Students remain at the core of our mission,” Kaler said. “We transform their lives so they can transform our communities, our state, and the world.”

w2018_drivenegwim_inline300Photo Credit: Gopher Athletics Scholarship support helped Emerald Egwim, the U’s 400-meter dash champion, compete while attending the Carlson School of Management, where she majors in management information systems. “I always say none of my achievements are my own,” she says. “They are a compilation of all the people who have invested in me, spent time with me, helped train me, helped teach me, and have been there for me.”

w2018_drivenbreimhurst_inline300Photo Credit: Brady Willette “Our invention will make farmers’ lives just a little bit easier and improve the quality of care they provide their cows,” says Peter Breimhurst, a microbiology major, scholarship recipient, and winner of the 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge. His team’s invention warms vaccines for dairy farmers in winter.

w2018_driveneosii_inline300Photo Credit: Rhonda Zurn A team of U engineering and other students recently unveiled a new solar car, the 13th created by the U’s Solar Vehicle Project. With support from 3M, Ford Motor Company, and others, the team drove it across Australia as part of a competition in October. “We build a car, but we mostly produce people who are better at their job, people who go out in the world and make it better,” says the project’s director of engineering, student Graham Krumpelmann.

w2018_drivenebert_inline300Photo Credit: Liz Banfield “There are a lot of problems in the world, but there are also a lot of solutions,” says Cayla Ebert, a U law school student who worked as a translator for the Asylum Law Project, which provides pro bono assistance to political refugees. She is the recipient of several scholarships.

w2018_drivenpatterson_inline300Photo Credit: AHC Communications Ned Patterson, U alumnus and associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, is researching innovative methods for treating epilepsy in both humans and dogs. “One of the hardest parts of epilepsy is the unpredictability,” says Patterson, who received scholarship support as a student. “You’re fine 99 percent of the time, until you’re not.”

w2018_drivengewirtz_inline300Photo Credit: Dawn Villella As a John and Nancy Lindahl Leadership Professor in the U’s Department of Family Social Science, Abigail Gewirtz studies issues affecting military parents who return to their families following deployment. “They could be physically injured, they could have traumatic brain injury, they could have post-traumatic stress disorder,” she says. “The least we can do is provide them with what we know works best.”


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