msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/5/2011 11:40:28 AM ET 2011-07-05T15:40:28

Yale University has raised $3.88 billion despite the worst economy in decades, finishing the largest fundraising campaign in its history.

The Ivy League school plans to use the funds for its biggest expansion in decades, to extend its international reach and to make its school of music tuition free.

The five-year campaign exceeded its goal of $3.5 billion. More than 110,000 alumni, parents, friends, corporations and foundations contributed.

Yale launched the campaign in 2006 with a nucleus fund of about $1 billion, and by 2008 giving from all donor groups had reached $2.3 billion, according to a university press release.

The global economic crisis brought a decline in giving for 2009 and 2010, but the final year of the campaign broke all records, with contributions totaling more than $857 million in the last 12 months.

According to a university report, nearly 2,000 donors gave $100,000 or more during the campaign, and 10 donors made "transformative" gifts of $50 million or more.

The campaign will help pay for two new residential colleges expected to increase student enrollment by 15 percent to 6,100. It will be the university's largest expansion since it began admitting women in 1969.

Yale plans to add more international scholars to its faculty and add funding for every undergraduate to work or study abroad.

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