08/09/2014 07:30 am ET Updated Aug 09, 2014

Dartmouth Posts Fundraising Record Amid U.S. Sexual Assault Probe


Dartmouth College, under federal investigation for its handling of campus sexual assault, reported record fundraising from alumni this week.

Dartmouth said Thursday its alumni made $287.2 million in philanthropic commitments for fiscal 2014, including an anonymous donor who pledged $100 million, the largest single gift in college history. The year's fundraising is 86 percent higher than the Hanover, New Hampshire, college's five-year annual average of $154.6 million.

The fundraising surge came less than a year after Dartmouth posted a 14 percent drop in student applications, the largest decline in 21 years. The college said alumni donations reinforced confidence in Phil Hanlon, who was installed as president of the Ivy League college last summer.

Ann Root Keith, Dartmouth's chief operating officer of advancement, said it was possible the application decline spurred alumni to contribute.

"This is a supportive group of men and women who have graduated from the college and want to do well by their alma mater," Root Keith said in an interview Friday. She added: "Both their giving and volunteering demonstrate their confidence in the institution."

The application drop followed national attention on alleged hazing in the college Greek system and federal investigations for Dartmouth's response to sexual violence and harassment. Students have demonstrated repeatedly on campus over concerns about sexual assault, racial issues and treatment of the LGBT community.

Dartmouth said 113 alumnae made donations that topped $100,000 each. The college declined to detail the largest donation from among those women, called the Centennial Circle of Dartmouth Alumnae, but said it raised a total of $14.8 million from that group. The Centennial Circle had hoped to collect donations from 100 women.

"The Centennial Circle is a testament to the truth that Dartmouth women make things happen," Lanie McNulty, co-chair of the alumnae group, said in a statement. "We set a daring goal and broke right through it."

Hanlon vowed earlier this year to end "extreme behavior" on campus, and hosted a national summit on sexual assault in July.

Root Keith said alumni rallied behind Dartmouth hosting the summit.

"Efforts around that conference, and in moving Dartmouth forward, they're eager to support that," Root Keith said. "They like the idea of leading."

The Dartmouth College Fund saw donations from nearly 24,000 alumni, "representing a participation rate of 42.8 percent -- second-highest in the Ivy League and among the highest in the country," according to the school.