The "Victors for Michigan" campaign is the sixth such fundraising effort undertaken by the university since 1948 and was announced by school officials at a news conference in Ann Arbor. The most recent, the "Michigan Difference" campaign, ran from 2004 to 2008 and raised $3.2 billion, well over its goal of $2.5 billion.
The university already has received gifts totaling $1.7 billion during a two-year silent phase of the current campaign.
Every unit and all three Michigan campuses will participate in the campaign, which has a top priority of raising funds so every student accepted by the university can afford to attend.
Andrea Fischer Newman, chair of the university's Board of Regents, said it is important that Michigan maintains not only its excellence as a public research university, but also its affordability. The idea, she said, is to "join with donors to make it possible for the best students, from any socio-economic background, to afford to get a Michigan education."
Stephen Ross, a Michigan graduate, New York real estate developer and owner of the Miami Dolphins NFL team, is serving as chair of the campaign. He is the school's largest donor.
A celebration to kick off the public phase of the campaign will be held Friday.
Outgoing university President Mary Sue Coleman said she is confident the campaign will succeed.
"University of Michigan donors have always understood the importance of private gifts to the success of the university," Coleman said. "They understand that private support adds the margin of excellence necessary to maintaining our role as one of the top public research universities in the world."