In Our Hands: The Campaign for North Dakota State University raises $586.7 million to support NDSU

The final total for the In Our Hands campaign, with John Glover, President Bresciani, and Kristi Hanson discussing the campaign's impact

Fargo, N.D. — Building on what had been previously announced as the largest higher education fundraising campaign in North Dakota history, In Our Hands: The Campaign for North Dakota State University raised the bar even higher, sharing today that $586.7 million was raised during the six-year comprehensive campaign.

“Twelve years ago, I was on a campus poised to accomplish more and contribute more than any college or university in the state ever had,” NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani said. “We all shared that vision — our students shared it, our faculty and staff shared it, our alumni shared it, our corporate partners shared it, people across the country have shared that belief. What we’ve accomplished here is the biggest fundraising effort in the history of the state of North Dakota. We have done that collectively as the Bison Family.”

Kristi Hanson and President Bresciani discuss the impact of the In Our Hands campaign

North Dakota Governor and alumnus Doug Burgum ’78 joined North Dakota State University (NDSU) students and President Dean L. Bresciani and North Dakota State University Foundation (NDSU Foundation) leaders to announce the results at a campaign reveal party for benefactors, faculty, students, and staff at the McGovern Alumni Center.

“This is a marking point for a new beginning for NDSU and the state of North Dakota,” North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum said. “The Bison Family is made up of families, and it’s made up of families that generationally care about this. When people take the action of putting their time, talents, and their treasure toward an institution at a magnitude we’ve never seen before, it means something remarkable for the students who are here today and the students who are coming.”

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum discusses the importance of the In Our Hands campaign on NDSU and the state of North Dakota

More than 15,000 benefactors participated in the campaign, which publicly launched in October 2019 with a goal of raising $400 million over seven years, after having already secured more than $300 million during the quiet phase that began January 2016. By May of 2021, the campaign reached its $400 million target, 20 months ahead of schedule, and NDSU leaders decided to complete the campaign one year earlier than previously scheduled — that, however, didn’t slow down momentum.

“This campaign was about relationship building. We reacquainted people with old relationships, we brought in new relationships, and now we are stronger than we’ve ever been,” Kristi Hanson ’87, In Our Hands campaign ambassador, said. “Today, I am so proud to be a Bison!”

Bison benefactors continued to step up through all of 2021, and in the process, established a new single-year fundraising achievement of more than $197.2 million raised through the NDSU Foundation. When the dust settled on Dec. 31, 2021, the final In Our Hands campaign tally exceeded its goal by more than 47% and in one year less than planned.

Thundar brings forth the envelope with the final campaign total
Michael Hall, a Bison Ambassador, celebrates after the announcement of the campaign total

The NDSU Foundation’s endowment, a critical, perpetual source of funding designated for specific purposes according to donor intent, grew dramatically during the campaign, thanks to new gifts made and investment performance. Prior to the campaign’s beginning, the endowment value stood at $134 million, as of Dec. 31, 2015. As of Dec. 31, 2021, the endowment stood at $457 million, a remarkable 241% increase.

The transformational level of In Our Hands support from benefactors will send ripple effects long into the future for NDSU’s continued rise as a distinctive student-focused, land-grant, research university.

Campaign co-chairs Steve Swiontek, Robert Challey, and Sheila Challey discuss the In Our Hands Campaign

“President Bresciani’s vision was an integral part of the campaign, and it was his vision of what he wanted to do for NDSU,” Steve Swiontek ’78, campaign co-chair along with his wife Mary Anne ’77 and Robert ’67 and Sheila Challey, said. “Mary Anne and I, along with others, have totally embraced Dean’s leadership and the importance he placed on the University and looking ahead.”

The campaign focused on four categories: scholarships, faculty, programs, and facilities. Each of these areas are essential in enhancing the NDSU experience. Gifts to scholarships totaled more than $238 million. These investments ensure the best and brightest students will have access to an NDSU education no matter their financial backgrounds.

More than $40 million in gifts was designated to support NDSU faculty. Philanthropic support of faculty research is critical in elevating NDSU’s reputation and distinction as an R1 research university. The investments made by benefactors in support of faculty during this campaign established 22 new named faculty and administrative positions. By supporting faculty research through philanthropic giving, benefactors help ensure crucial research continues despite variable state funding. The Ronald and Kaye Olson Deanship in the College of Business was the first endowed dean position established during the campaign.

Support for faculty and students was also enhanced through program support. As one example, the $35 million Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth (Challey Institute) has supported numerous scholars and fellows since its establishment in 2019. Program support during the campaign spread across campus totaling nearly $178 million. This groundbreaking support comes in recognizing the tremendous opportunities within NDSU to enhance learning and research experiences beyond the traditional classroom.

Investments from In Our Hands will change NDSU’s skyline for years to come. Facility support includes nearly $130 million. Major facility projects supported through In Our Hands include the Sanford Health Athletics Complex, Aldevron Tower, the Nodak Insurance Company Football Performance Complex, Tharaldson Softball Complex, Louise S. Barry Auditorium in Richard H. Barry Hall, and the Peltier Complex.

Expendable and endowed gifts, along with gifts designated to building projects, will reach every corner of the university through student scholarships, faculty support, and program support. Many benefactors enjoy seeing the immediate impact of their gifts go to work through expendable giving while others enjoy creating perpetual funds that will make a lasting, legacy impact for years to come.

As part of the campaign, benefactors provided $154 million by documenting gifts through wills and estate planning intentions. Giving in this manner was spurred by the In Our Hands Legacy Challenge program, which was launched in 2020. The challenge offered immediate matching funds for those who documented estate gifts, which inspired others to give by planning for NDSU’s future. In the end, more than 116 designated funds to support campus were impacted by the Legacy Challenge.

“When we started the campaign, it became obvious we had not done very much in the area of legacy gifting,” Robert Challey, who along with his wife Sheila provided the matching funds for the In Our Hands Legacy Challenge, said. “NDSU wasn’t in the estate or trust or will of very many of our alumni and friends, and now we are. That’s a terrific way to build a campaign and build a long-term asset base for the future.”

“Rare is there a profession where one gets to work with really remarkable people in especially meaningful ways,” John Glover, NDSU Foundation President and CEO, said. “Bison Nation has been remarkable through this campaign, and the future of NDSU is now brighter than ever.”

In Our Hands by the numbers:

  • Endowment grew from $134 million on Dec. 31, 2015, to $457 million on Dec. 31, 2021
  • Campaign total: $586,651,144
  • $238.3 million raised for scholarships
  • $40.7 million raised to support faculty
  • $178 million raised for programs
  • $129.7 million raised for facilities
  • $104.7 million distributed to campus since the campaign start
  • 15,068 donors made gifts, of whom 4,263 were first-time donors
  • 506 new scholarships
  • 22 new named faculty positions
  • NDSU Team Makers raised $41.9 million for Bison Athletics


The NDSU Foundation builds enduring relationships that maximize advocacy and philanthropy to support North Dakota State University.



Nicole Thom-Arens
Director of Communications
NDSU Foundation
(701) 231-6808 | 800-279-8971