Rocky weeks follow campaign Kickoff

or a fundraiser that’s got to pull in a million bucks a day, UVA’s $3 billion capital campaign is off to a bumpy (you could say mumpy) start, at least in terms of local news. In the weeks surrounding the kickoff to one of the most ambitious fundraisers in higher education history, the University has been hit hard enough to tickle anyone’s sense of the absurd. These disasters may not have a direct effect on the money rolling in, but there’s nothing like a shooting, a murder, a pistol-whipping and an infectious disease to cloud all that positive energy the Barber brothers brought to town on September 30.
A mumps case discovered September 22 has since led to 17 students with mumps symptoms, three confirmed mumps cases and a declared outbreak of the mumps by the Centers for Disease Control. Most of the students have recovered—two are still on their way.
The University is also grappling with the brutal murder of one of its students. Elizabeth Hafter, who had escaped Grounds to study on an overlook of the Blue Ridge Parkway September 29, was allegedly shot at random by rampaging killer William “Tom” Ashby, who subsequently killed himself.
The Corner has been crime-ridden lately: a student left school in early October after getting shot in the gut while on the porch of a house on Wertland Street on September 10. Another student was pistol-whipped and robbed on Elliewood Avenue on October 6. UVA administrators are urging students to stay aware of their surroundings and treat Charlottesville like any other city when they’re out at night.
To top it all off, UVA’s $3 billion campaign was quickly bested by two universities—Columbia announced its $4 billion campaign September 29 and Stanford pledged to raise $4.3 billion on October 3.
University spokesperson Carol Wood says it’s not a competition: “We believe right now that $3 billion is the right number… We’re setting our own goals here at the University.” (On the positive side, getting trumped may have its advantages—compared to other campaigns, UVA’s $3 billion is starting to look pretty modest.)
Events like Corner violence and the mumps are just part of life at a major university, according to Wood, on a totally different scale from the campaign for the University. “Yes, we deal with these day-to-day issues…but the campaign focus is more global.” Wood also says the local woes are unrelated to a campaign that’s going very well—it has earned $1,019,665,933 as of September 30.
While events like these may not prevent alumni all over the world from whipping out their checkbooks, a calm week to focus on their million-a-day goals could be a welcome PR break for UVA.

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