Donors rising to challenge

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Jul 262011
 
Authors: Jason Pohl

The financial pocketbook of Colorado State University widened radically over the past year, even in financially stressful times.

Private donors contributed more than $85 million to the university last year –– an increase of 47 percent from the previous year. The national average was only 5 percent.

“We are seeing a great upward trend,” said Brett Anderson, vice president for University Advancement at CSU, which oversees fundraising. “We are getting out there and talking to as many people as possible.”

Anderson said the donations came in all amounts from all sorts of people, primarily alumni, who want to, “target a specific program and stay connected with their passion.”

Ranging from scholarship opportunities to construction projects like the new engineering building, the contributions from nearly 28,000 donors last year added up in a big way.

Perhaps the most well known donation came from Walter Scott in the amount of $10 million. Scott graduated from CSU in 1953 and has since worked in the construction and telecommunications industries, propelling himself onto Forbe’s “Richest Men in the World” list, valued at nearly $2 billion in 2010.

“CSU did an outstanding job giving me an education,” Scott said at the groundbreaking of the new engineering building last spring. “(This is) an opportunity to make a significant change in the engineering program at CSU.”

The donations are a culmination of the Campaign for Colorado State, a movement hoping to gather $500 million in donations by June 2012 –– the amount needed for numerous functions on campus. Since the campaign began in 2005, $425 million has been raised.

Anderson said educating people is the hardest part, and many don’t realize the tuition they pay only covers one-third of the total cost.

“Private support becomes more important all the time,” he said.

“At a time when we’re balancing severe state funding cuts with the need to keep education affordable and of high quality, private gifts are even more essential than ever,” said CSU President Tony Frank in a press release. “Every gift –– whether $5 or $5 million –– makes a big difference to CSU.”

The Campaign for Colorado State will continue its fundraising effort over the next year as the total nears the original goal.

“CSU Fort Collins significantly outpaced CU Boulder,” Anderson said. “We have great alums, great students and great programs, and we should all be very proud.”

Staff writer Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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