If successful, it will mean the university will increase its cash reserves by around 20 per cent, with figures from 2012 suggesting that the institution has an endowment of around $30 billion (£19 billion).
It would also represent the biggest fundraising push in higher education history, the university believes, and be used to ensure the Ivy League institution maintains its “leadership role in the rapidly shifting landscape of higher education”.
The university has already raised $2.8 billion (£1.75 billion) from more than 90,000 alumni and friends during the campaign’s “pre-launch” phase.
“We launch The Harvard Campaign at a moment when higher education is being challenged to reinvent itself, and we embrace this opportunity for a campaign that aims to do more than merely extend or reinforce long-standing strength and eminence,” said Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard and Lincoln professor of history.
Some 45 per cent of the money raised will be used to support teaching and research, while 25 per cent will fund financial aid and the “student experience”. Twenty per cent will be spent on “capital improvements”, with the remaining 10 per cent earmarked for “flexible funding to foster collaborations and initiatives”.
“Knowledge has never been more important to the future of individuals and societies,” Professor Faust continued. “The world’s challenges have never been more pressing, more complex, or more shared.
“With the support of our extraordinarily loyal and generous university community, we will meet these challenges, and in doing so, we will reaffirm what makes Harvard - and universities in general - such essential and irreplaceable contributors to the pursuit of knowledge and the welfare of the world.”