Aug 302009
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

CSU officials announced Saturday that, for the last four years, the university has been conducting an ongoing capital campaign that aims to bring a total of $500 million to programs school-wide by 2012.

Half of the money will be allocated to scholarships ,/a move that represents a palpable shift for a transitioning administration’s spending philosophy, which, until leadership changed dramatically last year, focused largely on research spending and exhaustive marketing of CSU as “The Green University.”

John Straayer, a long-time CSU political science professor, applauded the effort, which allocates the money to the university area of the donor’s choice, saying that donations are an essential piece a school’s funding scheme.

“By allowing donors to say, ‘I want to put my donation into agriculture rather than anatomy’ will have an impact,/a beneficial impact, even,” he said. But he added that other funding sources still need attention. “However, I don’t feel it can steer a ship as large as a university.”

Straayer, who publicly criticized the former administration for its financial

philosophy, which pushed millions of dollars of state and tuition dollars that could have gone to academics into administrative spending, is an outspoken supporter of the new administration.

In e-mail messages to campus saying he planned to re-invest in academia here, CSU President Tony Frank immediately established himself as a more democratic leader than his predecessor, Larry Penley, after Penley resigned amid a shroud of criticism Nov. 5.

And Frank’s plan to invest two-thirds of the new revenue in academic initiatives points toward the new president’s commitment to the colleges and the library.

University officials said this weekend they expect the effort to provide cash flow to capital construction projects and academic initiatives.

Joyce Berry, the vice president for Advancement and Strategic Initiatives, said that, while $500 million is a lofty goal, administrators see it as necessary for CSU to maintain its competitive edge.

“… as a world-class university, we needed a world-class campaign,” she said in a phone interview.

So far, the effort has raised nearly $290 million, including a $30 million donation from Ed Warner, a wealthy university alumnus, to CSU’s natural resources college, which is named after Warner.

Frank said this initiative will “help fill the gaps” left by massive financial shortages in state support for higher education, which leaves Colorado at the bottom of the barrel for funding for its colleges and universities.

Frank said the campaign follows a national trend of CSU’s peer institutions looking to establish alternative revenue streams as state and federal funding for higher education continues to fall short.

“We’re a little behind the game in doing this,” he said in a phone interview Sunday. “We’re the only D-I school who hasn’t run a fundraising campaign.”

Berry said that, in 2009 alone, more than 25,000 donors pitched nearly $55 million to the university.

“The gap in state funding is a reality that makes private funding essential,” Berry said.

Staff writer Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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