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East Lansing — Michigan State University's Board of Trustees on Friday approved $1.5 billion as the goal for the school's major fundraising effort and officials said they already have $780 million in gifts committed as part of the campaign.

The approval came ahead of a kickoff for the public phase of the capital campaign at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts on Friday night. The theme of the campaign is "Empower Extraordinary" and it's the East Lansing school's first capital campaign since 2007.

"The upcoming campaign is a historic opportunity to assure that innovation and opportunity will continue to thrive at MSU, not just for us today, but for future generations," school President Lou Anna K. Simon said in a statement.

The university began the silent phase of the campaign in July 2011.

Friday's campaign event includes the announcement of an "8-figure" financial gift and the performance of a musical piece composed by Tony Award-winning alumnus William David Brohn. Basketball coach Tom Izzo is among those expected to attend.

On Thursday, the school announced a $10 million gift for athletics — the department's largest single donation.

The school said its programs will benefit from the capital campaign, as will facilities and infrastructure. One major goal is to double the school's number of endowed chairs and professorships, which, currently at 100, is among the smallest in the Big Ten.

"To have an even greater impact on society, we need to enhance our ability to attract and retain the best faculty," said Provost June Pierce Youatt. "Top-tier scholars help students find their life's work, conduct groundbreaking research and attract grant funding to advance the university's mission."

Total gifts to the university for fiscal year 2013-14, including current cash and planned gifts, grew 15 percent from the previous year to more than $238 million. The value of MSU's endowment topped $2 billion for the first time in the 2013 fiscal year.

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