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‘We Will’ Campaign surpasses $4 billion with gift from Bon and Holly French

Northwestern increases fundraising goal to $5 billion

A major new commitment from Northwestern University trustee and alumnus T. Bondurant (“Bon”) French ’75, ’76 MBA and his wife, Hollis (“Holly”) S. French, has pushed fundraising for We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern past the $4 billion mark and well beyond its original goal of $3.75 billion, nearly two years ahead of schedule.

The “We Will” Campaign was launched publicly in March 2014 with the joint goals of raising $3.75 billion from at least 141,000 supporters. Now, thanks to 149,094 Northwestern alumni, parents and friends, Campaign fundraising stands at a record $4.06 billion.

“I am immensely grateful to Bon and Holly, who epitomize the Northwestern spirit through their long-time generosity and volunteerism, and to so many others who have helped us get where we are today,” Northwestern President Morton Schapiro said. “Their generosity has enabled us to reach our goals faster than we ever imagined — and raised our expectations for the future of the University.”

Related: Read more about Bon and Holly French

Northwestern is increasing its Campaign goals to raise $5 billion from 170,000 supporters by the end of 2020 to build on the Campaign’s rapid success and to pursue emerging academic priorities.

“We are calling on the Northwestern community to continue supporting critically important initiatives that will help the University achieve new levels of excellence,” Northwestern Provost Jonathan Holloway said. “Among those strategic priorities are endowing financial aid support for undergraduate, graduate and professional school students; expanding our expertise and curricular offerings in global studies and the humanities; broadening and deepening our interdisciplinary research and innovation in computer science; updating the University Libraries facilities; and ensuring that our unprecedented rise in biomedical research funding can continue.”

The “We Will” Campaign has had far-reaching impact thus far. As of May 31, 2018, Campaign support has fueled:

  • 378 new endowed scholarships and fellowships
  • 557 Summer Undergraduate Research Grants
  • 437 Summer Internship Grant Program awards
  • Emergency support for 178 students
  • 67 new endowed professorships
  • 34 new research institutes and centers
  • 3 new academic departments
  • 2 new degree programs

Since the Campaign began

  • Northwestern has completed 23 new construction projects and 26 major renovation projects in Evanston, Chicago and San Francisco.
  • Northwestern has significantly increased financial aid for its students, including eliminating loans for incoming undergraduate students.
  • The percent of Pell Grant-eligible students in the entering class has increased from 14 percent (Class of 2015) to 20 percent (Class of 2022).
  • Graduate student stipends have been increased to enhance the quality of life for graduate students. The University Fellowship rate has risen from $20,928 in the 2010–11 academic year to $32,196 in 2018–19, and the Graduate Assistantship rate has risen from $21,576 in 2010–11 to $32,196 in 2018–19.
  • Sponsored research funding has risen from $511.7 million in fiscal year 2011 to $676.5 million in fiscal year 2017.

These achievements have been made possible by gifts from 149,094 members of the Northwestern community over the course of the Campaign thus far.

“An important aspect of the ‘We Will’ Campaign is how broadly it is engaging the Northwestern community of alumni, parents and friends,” said University Trustee Paula B. Pretlow ’77, ’78 MBA, Campaign co-chair for participation. “Together, we will help Northwestern continue to make a meaningful difference in the world.”

The “We Will” Campaign has been highlighted by a series of major gifts. A total of 1,283 families have made gifts of $100,000 or more throughout the Campaign. Many of those benefactors include members of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees.

“I am extremely proud of the remarkable leadership of my fellow trustees, whose combined support represents nearly 25 percent of Campaign giving to date,” said J. Landis (Lanny) Martin ’68, ’73 JD, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Their generous outpouring of support is a strong endorsement of the long-term vision and direction for the University.

“Looking ahead, the Campaign’s new $5 billion goal will build on the tremendous momentum of support, allowing President Schapiro, Provost Holloway and their leadership team to accelerate the implementation of Northwestern’s ambitious strategic plans,” added Martin, who also is a Campaign co-chair.

Bon and Holly French are dedicated Northwestern volunteers who have led fundraising initiatives on behalf of the University and Kellogg School of Management. Having seen the Campaign’s impact first-hand, they hope to inspire additional giving through their support.

“Holly and I care deeply for Northwestern and Kellogg and are proud to give back to the university that has meant so much to our family over the last seven decades,” said Bon French, a lifelong leader in the field of private equity. “Northwestern has the potential to make a significant and lasting impact on the world through strategic investments in education and discovery, and now is our moment.”

Bon French is a member of the “We Will” Campaign Steering Committee and will serve as co-chair of the Campaign in 2019, leading a network of more than 660 U.S. and international Campaign volunteers. A member of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees since 2004, he currently chairs its investments committee and is a member of its executive and innovation and entrepreneurship committees. He also has chaired several of his class reunions, has been a guest lecturer and adviser, and is a member of the Kellogg Global Advisory Board and the Kellogg Finance Network. He was the 2011 recipient of the Schaffner Award, which honors Kellogg leaders who have made significant contributions to society and have exemplified Kellogg’s dynamic culture through their professional achievements.

The Frenches’ gift — a transformational bequest commitment — will benefit Kellogg and University programs.

“Bon and I have been thrilled to be a part of the impact the Campaign has had across Kellogg and the University, and we look forward to growing that impact,” said Holly French, a longtime volunteer for Northwestern Medicine’s Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital and the Northwestern University Women’s Board. “We hope others will join us in ensuring an even brighter future for Northwestern and its students.”

With 37 years of continuous giving to the University, the Frenches are “platinum” level in NU Loyal, the society recognizing consistent giving to Northwestern. They are also members of the Henry and Emma Rogers Society, honoring those who have included Northwestern in their estate plans. Past gifts have supported Kellogg, Weinberg College, Athletics and Recreation, the Northwestern University Transportation Center and other areas of the University. The French Quarter within the Kellogg Global Hub, the Bon and Holly French Swimming Scholarship and a number of other funds are named in their honor.

‘We Will’ Campaign: By the numbers


Original goal

As of Aug. 31, 2018

Expanded goal


$3.75 billion

$4.06 billion

$5 billion





Since the start of the Campaign, there have been more than 50,000 members of the NU Loyal giving society. The new NU Loyal goal is 55,000.

Top Campaign donors

As announced in June, the Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation, formed by Neil G. Bluhm ’62 JD, recently made a $25 million gift to Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, which was created in 2005 and named in recognition of Bluhm and his family. The gift will fund, in part, a first-of-its-kind center that utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning to advance the study and treatment of cardiovascular disease. With this most recent gift, total contributions from Bluhm and the foundation throughout We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern now exceed $50 million.

All Campaign goals for Northwestern schools and programs, and regions, will be increased as part of the Campaign expansion.

Top five schools and programs

  • Northwestern Medicine has raised $1.84 billion in support.
  • Athletics and Recreation has raised $406.2 million in support.
  • The Kellogg School of Management has raised $396.0 million in support.
  • Weinberg College has raised $341.5 million in support.
  • The Pritzker School of Law has raised $232.8 million in support.

Top five regions

  • In the Chicago region, 50,505 donors have contributed a total of $2.52 billion throughout the “We Will” Campaign.
  • In the Florida region, 5,396 donors have contributed $289.8 million.
  • In the New York region, 13,463 donors have contributed $268.8 million.
  • In the San Francisco region, 7,461 donors have contributed $254.8 million.
  • In the Texas region, 4,397 donors have contributed $78.6 million.

“We Will” Campaign supporters represent 110 countries. Outside of the United States, 4,801 international donors have contributed $66.2 million.

The funds raised through the “We Will” Campaign are helping realize the transformational vision set forth in Northwestern’s strategic plan and solidify the University’s position among the world’s leading research universities.

Learn more about We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern.



About Bon and Holly French

After growing up in Peoria, Ill., Bon French earned a B.A. in economics from the Northwestern University Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences in 1975 and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management in 1976. As an undergraduate, he was a swim team member, Associated Student Government representative and Beta Theta Pi social chairman. He also participated in the Model Railroad Club and Naval ROTC.

After graduating, French began his decades-long career in the investment sector. In 1980, he joined Chicago-based Adams Street Partners LLC, where he went on to serve as CEO and chief investment officer. Under French’s leadership, Adams Street Partners grew to be one of the largest private equity firms globally — with 10 locations worldwide — and was inducted into the Private Equity Hall of Fame. French is now the firm’s chairman.

Holly French grew up in West Hartford, Conn. After graduating from Ohio’s Denison University with degrees in math and history, she went to work for a Hartford bank, where she settled estates. She is now a self-described full-time volunteer, mentoring other women and giving her time to the Junior League, Northwestern Medicine’s Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital and the Northwestern Women’s Board, which raises money for undergraduate scholarships.

The Frenches live in Glen Ellyn, Ill. They have two children, Katheryn Meagher ’07, who earned a B.A. in political science and international studies from Northwestern’s Weinberg College in 2007, and Taylor French, who graduated from Denison with a degree in geoscience in 2011. Bon French’s parents, Taylor French ’51 and Joan Trenchard French ’51, earned B.A. degrees from Northwestern in 1951, and his brother, Penn French ’89 MBA, earned his MBA from Kellogg in 1989.

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