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Amherst College raises $500m, beats goal

AMHERST — Amherst College has surpassed its fund-raising goal in a five-year campaign by nearly $80 million.

The fund-raising drive realized about $502 million. It began in October 2008 as the stock market plunged at the beginning of the worst recession in decades, causing the liberal arts college’s endowment to lose about one-fourth of its value.

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The priorities of the drive included maintaining the college’s financial aid policies and fostering faculty-student research.

‘‘The campaign was not only launched during a challenging time, but it succeeded during the worst downturn since the Great Depression,’’ said president Biddy Martin.

Anonymous donations of more than $138 million included separate gifts of $100 million and $25 million, Martin said. A high proportion of unrestricted gifts, about 47 percent of what was raised in total, also was noteworthy, she said.

Higher education philanthropy tends to emphasize restricted gifts, with donor involvement in directing how the gifts are to be used, such as naming buildings and programs for donors, Martin said.

‘‘The difference here is that many of our alumni and donors are hewing to an older tradition, which is generosity without the recognition that many people seek,’’ she said.

Megan Morey, chief advancement officer, said the campaign allowed the college to broaden access to Amherst, enhance the curriculum and physical campus, and foster greater engagement between the college and the community in Western Massachusetts.

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