NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Rutgers University fundraising efforts brought in $223.4 million for the 2017-18 academic year, more than $10 million above what was raised the previous year and the largest amount ever collected in a single year, university officials said.

The donations were 6.8 percent above the $209.1 million donated in 2016-2017, which was 11 percent more than in 2015-16.

During this past school year, the number of donors topped 50,000 for the first time.

Sign Up for E-News

The increase in donations, said University President Robert Barchi, along with the growing number of people giving, "means to the university that Rutgers can continue to thrive as the world-class university that our students, our faculty, and the people of New Jersey deserve.”

The money raised will go to student scholarships, research, and experiential learning programs, new facilities to improve health and wellness in New Jersey, and provide affordable education for lifelong learners in the state, Rutgers officials said.

They said the university receives donations of all sizes, but also listed a few of the larger ones.

Rutgers graduates Gary and Barbara W. Rodkin pledged $15 million for creation of an "academic success center" that will be named for the couple, and will house academic support services for all university student athletes. Officials said this was the largest gift for athletics in Rutgers history.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, an international philanthropic organization, gave Rutgers $27.5 million to support a major initiative aimed at revitalizing Greece’s agriculture industries through training and developing a new generation of farmers and inspiring agriculture and food entrepreneurs.

That will be used for a three-year long project through the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and in partnership with the Agricultural University of Athens and American Farm School.

The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum received a pledge of $10 million from the Avenir Foundation, a Colorado-based organization that gives donations in support of education and the arts, particularly museums.

The pledge will benefit the Avenir Endowment Fund to enhance and promote the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union. Those objects join the 4,000 Soviet nonconformist works that Dodge and her late husband, Norton Dodge, donated to the Zimmerli in 1991.

Rutgers also received a $3 million three-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health (IFNH) that will launch the New Jersey Healthy Kids Initiative. The initiative is a partnership between IFNH and the Child Health Institute of New Jersey that will focus on improving the health of New Jersey children.