The University of Louisville got contributions from 75,000 donors from every state and every Kentucky county to meet its $1-billion fundraising campaign, school officials announced Thursday.

The Charting Our Course campaign began in 2007.

UofL President James Ramsey said he did not expect the funds to be raised so quickly.

“At the time, a billion dollars sounded overwhelming,” he said.

The funds will go to fuel university research, support faculty, improve facilities and provide nearly 190 endowed student scholarships, officials said.

For students like Lashawn Ford, a UofL senior, more scholarships mean more opportunities.

“It means I can actually focus on my college experience, rather than working and worrying about trying to pay for school,” she said.  ”I could never imagine any of this.”

Ramsey  said the financial boost from the campaign will help fill the gap left by recent cuts in state funding.

“It’s been critical in terms of us continuing to move forward on the amazing trajectory we are on,” Ramsey said.

The Kentucky state budget, expected to be signed by Gov. Steve Beshear in the coming weeks, outlines a $2.1 million annual cut to the UofL general fund over the course of the next  two years.

The total amount raised by the campaign tops out at just more than $1 billion. 

“We can’t quit now,” Ramsey said.  “We are going to celebrate and this summer at the Board of Trustees summer retreat we will talk about the next steps.”  

More than 44,000 of the donations were provided by first time donors to the University and 186 people gave at least $1 million.  The largest individual donation was $33.3 million.

UofL is one of just 52 public universities in the country to undertake a $1 billion campaign and reached the goal faster than any other Kentucky college, officials said.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.