Illinois Institute of Technology Wraps up Third-Most Successful Fundraising Year

Illinois Tech Donors Are the Difference that is Making a Difference for the Future of Inclusive Education and Innovation.



By Howard J. Lee

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CHICAGO—Illinois Institute of Technology is proud to announce $83.3 million in new fundraising commitments for FY2021 thanks to the generosity, support, and vision of donors and alumni. This fundraising total is only surpassed by the nearly $138 million raised in the university’s largest fundraising year in FY2020 and from the university’s second-largest fundraising year in FY1996, when Robert Galvin’s and Robert Pritzker’s respective $60 million gifts launched the IIT Challenge Campaign.

Currently in its leadership phase, Power the Difference: Our Campaign for Illinois Tech is the university’s multiyear, $500 million fundraising campaign devoted to the ongoing success and impact of Illinois Tech, with the primary goals being to increase financial investment in scholarships for students from all different backgrounds and to improve infrastructure and the campus experience.

“In 1890, we were founded by a million-dollar promise to establish a university where students from all backgrounds have an opportunity for meaningful roles in a changing industrial society,” says Raj Echambadi, the university’s newly appointed president. “Our purpose is even more critical today, as we at Illinois Tech continue to be that opportunity engine for students to harness the collective power of difference to drive innovation and further position Chicago as the most diverse center for tech entrepreneurship.” 

Year over year, gifts of all sizes make a difference. Illinois Tech supporters have come together as a community to power this purpose and this campaign because of the positive impact it provides Illinois Tech students. Ernie Iseminger, Illinois Tech vice president of advancement, has been working to drive this transformation since his arrival just more than two years ago. “Especially during this time of COVID, the way our community has stepped up to collectively serve our purpose is amazing,” Iseminger says. “Our students are at the heart of what we do. We have to demonstrate the value we are bringing to students and their roles in the future of technology, because people want to invest in value.” 

The university’s commitment to the purpose and culture of philanthropy is evident through the engagement, stewardship, and vision of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees. 

“We always start with the students,” says Michael P. Galvin (LAW ‘78), chairman of theBoard of Trustees. “How will we make a difference in their lives, so they can make a difference in the world? We need to support both our own backyard here in Chicago and students from all over the world, so we can elevate our community and the city’s reputation as a global technology leader.”

The Illinois Tech board is a robust and active team of highly accomplished alumni, business leaders, and luminaries who understand the purpose-driven value that the university brings to students and the future of inclusive innovation. Beyond aiding in the vision of Illinois Tech, board members proudly invest firsthand in the university along with other alumni, donors, and businesses, a few of whom are noted below from FY2021 giving highlights: 

  • Mike Galvin believes that Illinois Tech is a place “where our difference makes a difference,” and he has continued his longstanding contributions to the university. As a third-generation donor, Mike extends his legacy of giving with a bequest of $10 million, bringing his total Power the Difference campaign commitment to $50 million.
  • As inventor of the cell phone, Trustee Martin Cooper (EE '50, M.S. '57) knows firsthand how bringing together different perspectives drives world-changing innovation. Marty and Arlene Harris announced their extraordinary $20 million bequest to Illinois Tech. This latest contribution continues to build upon what they have done to create a Cooper/Harris legacy at Illinois Tech. 
  • Sadly, one of Illinois Tech’s most committed supporters, Art Hill (CHE ‘71), passed away in 2020. As one of the lead donors to the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship and as an advocate of student scholarships, Art had said, “I want to help students find their direction in life.” This belief and generosity led to Art providing a $9.1 million estate gift to Illinois Tech. The university honored his legacy by establishing the Arthur W. Hill Endowed Chair in Sustainability at Armour College of Engineering with a portion of that estate gift.
  • A $1 million endowment grant funded by The Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Illinois, will support the Grainger Computing Innovation Prize, and student teams will receive substantial prizes for first, second, and third place in the competition. In conjunction with Illinois Tech’s newly established College of Computing, teams will be composed of students across different fields of study and from various backgrounds. The goal is that this diversity of thought will lend itself to unique solutions and bolster cross-disciplinary collaborations.
  • Founder of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, trustee Ed Kaplan (ME '65) continues his commitment to Illinois Tech with significant support of the Kaplan Institute. Ed’s philosophy of “preparing our graduates for the world they will enter with rich experiences in innovation and entrepreneurship” was furthered by his donation of equipment, including a CnC laser for the Grainger Maker Space and 3D printers for the Duchossois Idea Shop, along with funds to support the growth of the Kaplan Institute team.


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Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused research university. Illinois Tech is the only university of its kind in Chicago, and its Chicago location offers students access to the world-class resources of a great global metropolis. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, computing, architecture, business, design, science and human sciences, and law. One of 22 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities, Illinois Tech provides an exceptional education centered on active learning, and its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Illinois Tech uniquely prepares students to succeed in professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Visit

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