ORANGEBURG -- South Carolina State University is gearing up for the first capital campaign in the school's 115-year history.

The Board of Trustees' Institutional Advancement Committee voted Thursday in favor of launching the planning process for the fundraising effort, which officials hope eventually will raise as much as $100 million. The university's full board will vote on the matter at its Sept. 29 meeting.

Trustee Matthew Richardson said the campaign likely would launch publicly in 2012.

Anthony Holloman, vice president for institutional advancement, said public historically black universities, such as S.C. State, traditionally have focused their energy on educating students, and have relied on state money for basic operation. They generally have not developed sophisticated fundraising branches as larger, flagship institutions have done.

But times have changed, Holloman said. State support has declined dramatically, and the university needs to find other ways to keep itself financially afloat. "A capital campaign really is the only option," he said.

Larger universities also feel the sting of budget cuts, Holloman said, "but it's not nearly as bad because they have money to support things like student scholarships. We're really challenged in those areas."

Other state schools also have launched, or are planning capital campaigns. For instance, Clemson University recently announced the "Will to Lead" campaign, which has a goal of raising more than $600 million.

But the largest amount ever raised by a public historically black university was $85 million, raised by North Carolina A&T State University in 2007, Holloman said.

Money raised from S.C. State's campaign will go toward need-based scholarships, building an endowment, faculty development and capital projects, which could include a student fitness and wellness center, Holloman said.

The university will first need to identify a modest initial goal, he said. When it achieves it, it can re-evaluate the campaign, and hopefully at some point push the goal to $100 million.

A problem for S.C. State, he said, is that it doesn't yet have the staff and other "infrastructure" in place for such a campaign. A fundraising effort of that magnitude could require the university to hire as many as five new staff members, he said. At first, about 25 cents of every dollar raised will go toward building the fundraising machine, he said.