Lawrence Murphy, ’19 MBA, and his wife had a child right before he started the MBA program.

With the price of an education and his growing family weighing on his mind, he wondered how he could make it all work out financially.

That all changed around Christmas, however, when he got a call saying he was awarded a fellowship to the Carlson School of Management.

“I remember that call very distinctly because I forwarded it to my wife,” Murphy recalls. “She said she cried when she heard the voicemail because of all the opportunities that it afforded us. Because of the fellowship, we didn’t have to move, we could stay here in the Twin Cities, and the debt burden would be so much lower. Now, I don’t have to think about different career paths. I can go after the thing that I want to go after.”

Murphy, and many students like him, rely on generous donors to make their education opportunities happen.

This past fiscal year, Carlson School donors came together to raise a record-breaking $38 million to support student financial aid, transformational experiential-learning, faculty funding, and research initiatives.

“It is amazing to see our alumni and friends come together and support the Carlson School in this record-breaking year,” Carlson School Dean Sri Zaheer says. “We are competing against the best business schools in the world for faculty talent and top students. This campaign is designed to ensure that we not only compete, but win these battles.”

The Carlson School is in the midst of its $150 million Driven campaign, which kicked off its public phase on October 28, 2017 and runs through June 30, 2021. The school already has raised $120 million—about 79 percent of the goal—as of June 30.

Highlights from the record-breaking 2017-18 include:

  • A $9.6 million anonymous corporate gift to support student scholarships and the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship. The gift represents the largest corporate gift ever to the Carlson School.
  • A $6 million gift from Brian Gerhardson, ’86 BSB, to support scholarships and students who identify with LGBTQ+ causes.
  • Nine women gave more than $800,000 to help establish WE*, a new initiative from the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship to support women entrepreneurs.
  • 115 new members joined the Investor’s Circle, the Carlson School’s annual giving society for donors of $2,500 or more annual.
  • On Give to the Max Day, an annual event that raises money for Minnesota organizations, 227 donors helped raise more than $186,000.

The majority of the year’s gifts supported students and the transformative experiences that enrich their time at the University. Donors gave more than $7.2 million to support undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships, bringing the school to 348 scholarship funds, 264 of which are endowed. These gifts enable the school to attract high-performing and high-potential students, regardless of financial means, including students such as Murphy.

Once at the school, investments into the Carlson School’s experiential-learning programs challenge students to think critically while developing a global mindset and entrepreneurial spirit desired by today’s top companies.

The school’s record fundraising year came from 2,305 total donors, including 483 people who had never given to the school before. Within that, 37 percent of donors gave less than $100.

“This goes to show that every gift—no matter how big or small—when added together, helps make a major impact on our students, faculty, and staff,” says Travis Smith, assistant dean for Carlson School Institutional Advancement. “Every one of our alumni and friends can make a difference and help make the Carlson School one of the best business schools in the world.”