On Oct. 1, 2021, Princeton University publicly launches Venture Forward, an engagement and fundraising campaign dedicated to meeting today’s complex challenges and those of the future.
The campaign, under the leadership of President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83, has three goals: building community and alumni engagement, seeking critical philanthropic support for the University’s highest strategic initiatives, and sharing Princeton’s defining principles and their impact on the world.
“The Venture Forward campaign puts Princeton’s values into action,” said President Eisgruber. “It aims to engage our alumni and friends, encourage a spirit of service to the University and to humanity, and help us expand the frontiers of knowledge. Venture Forward looks to the future while remaining firmly anchored in the University’s fundamental values, allowing Princeton to move from the present to the possible.”
The public launch of the Venture Forward campaign will be marked by the premiere of the “Dare to Venture” video series, which features Princeton faculty and alumni who are daring to ask the questions that have the potential to change the future. The video series will emphasize the University’s defining principles — talent and truth-seeking; access, affordability and inclusivity; and service to humanity. The first video will air at 5 p.m. EDT Oct. 1 on the Venture Forward website.
Venture Forward builds upon “A Year of Forward Thinking,” a 2020-21 engagement campaign that showcased Princeton’s capacity for bold and innovative thinking on the critical questions of our time. As part of that conversation, Princeton faculty and alumni “forward thinkers” participated in Forward Fest virtual events showcasing their work and its potential impact on some of humanity’s greatest challenges.
Venture Forward Impact
The campaign supports the University’s strategic plan, and the fundraising and engagement initiatives are aligned with the key focus areas of that plan: college access and affordability, financial aid, data science, bioengineering, the environment, American Studies, and other important areas of inquiry that characterize Princeton’s commitment to the liberal arts.
Princeton University has taken a national leadership role in addressing educational inequities that limit individual potential and perpetuate societal division, epitomized by its groundbreaking no-loan financial aid program that ensures the best undergraduate students can attend regardless of their financial circumstances. Over the last 20 years, the program has benefited more than 10,000 students and allowed 83% of recent seniors to graduate with zero debt. The Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity brings together the University’s nation-leading initiatives in college access and opportunity, serves as a hub for research and innovation in the field of college access and success, and informs and strengthens similar efforts at colleges and universities across the country.
The Princeton Bioengineering Initiative will support and expand the application of engineering analysis, design principles and technologies to unlock the secrets of complex biological systems. Bioengineering spans all engineering disciplines as well as areas of natural science, social science and the humanities. With every new breakthrough, bioengineering is poised to transform society, with extraordinary potential for positive impact on health, medicine and quality of life.
Another of Venture Forward’s core initiatives is data science, a rapidly growing field of study that centers on Princeton’s Department of Computer Science but also spans much of the University. With the development of sophisticated machine learning and advanced algorithms for analyzing massive troves of information, data science is transforming every academic discipline and exploring questions at the frontiers of knowledge, from decoding the human genome to developing faster, smarter artificial intelligence for technologies such as robotics.
Our planet faces multiple environmental crises — particularly climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and food and water shortages — that threaten to do incalculable damage to the natural world and human well-being. These challenges are complex, global and interconnected, requiring an interdisciplinary approach to solving them. On campus, centers of excellence such as the newly renamed High Meadows Environmental Institute and departments across the University are working to develop actionable solutions at every scale, engaging all faculty, staff and students in creating a sustainable future. That commitment is one that is demonstrated on campus, with a comprehensive sustainability action plan that promises to move the University to net-zero by 2046.
Annual Giving is also an essential focus of the Venture Forward campaign. Each year, unrestricted gifts from undergraduate and graduate alumni, parents and friends help provide the “margin of excellence” that sustains and enhances the University’s distinctive academic programs.
Major gifts announced prior to the public launch of Venture Forward represent key support of campaign impact areas:
- The High Meadows Foundation, a philanthropic organization co-founded by Judy and Carl Ferenbach III ’64, made a gift to support environmental research and educational initiatives through the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), the University’s interdisciplinary center for environmental research, education and outreach, which was renamed the High Meadows Environmental Institute.
- Mellody Hobson ’91 and the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation made the lead gift to establish a new residential college, Hobson College, to be built on the site of First College, formerly known as Wilson College.
- Wendy and Eric Schmidt ’76 made a gift to create Eric and Wendy Schmidt Hall, a new home for Princeton’s Department of Computer Science, by rebuilding and expanding historic Guyot Hall.
The full Princeton community will be engaged in Venture Forward throughout the campaign via social media, online events, and campus and regional events. On Oct. 22, the Alumni Council will launch Orange and Black Day, a new alumni-driven digital tradition for Princetonians to show their orange and black spirit and pride on social media.
Dedicated alumni volunteers will help lead Venture Forward, including campaign steering committee co-chairs Katherine Brittain Bradley ’86, Blair Effron ’84 and James Yeh ’87. During the first year of the campaign, the University’s Annual Giving effort will be led by AG Chair Christopher Olofson ’92. The Alumni Council chair and president of the Alumni Association is Mary Newburn ’97, and Monica Moore Thompson ’89 is the Council’s vice chair and vice president of the Alumni Association.
Venture Forward is Princeton’s fifth campaign in its 275-year history. Aspire, the University’s previous campaign, ran from 2007 to 2012. To see how you can Venture Forward, visit alumni.princeton.edu/venture, follow @PrincetonAlumni and @Princeton on social media, and use #VentureForward and #ForwardTogether.