Sep 262011
Authors: Emily Kribs

If senior education major Robin Ward were asked to donate money to CSU as an alumna, she said her response would probably be a resounding “no.”

“I don’t think it’d be worth it to me,” she said.

This attitude is one the Division of University Advancement seeks to change, particularly through a new position that will focus on encouraging students to donate to CSU after they graduate.

“What most students don’t realize is that the majority of funding for their education comes from outside sources,” said Lindsay Sell, the assistant director for Student Advancement Programs and a CSU alumna. Sell is the new addition, taking the post in the Division of University Advancement.

“Students’ tuition covers only around a third of the cost of their education,” Sell said. “Without private philanthropy and state funding, what students pay would run out at the end of October.”

CSU spokesman Brad Bohlander said only about $250 million out of $950 million a year comes from student tuition.

Previously, Sell’s job was parceled out amongst two separate employees; one person was focused exclusively on student programs and another on student ambassadors.

Those duties have since been consolidated and increased. Tasks that now fall to Sell include working with student groups such as the Student Alumni Connection and Presidential Ambassadors.

One of her more controversial functions is to educate students about the source of the school’s money and encouraging them to give back while still attending the university.

“One myth is that [the university only values] large gifts,” Sell explained. “We want students to realize that five dollars is just as good as a large donation.”

Sell’s goal is to reach every student at the university.

“Most students’ priority is how much they’re paying. While we appreciate that students give a lot of money and that a higher education is expensive, it only covers about a third of the cost of their education,” Sell said. “We want to educate students on where tuition runs out and private philanthropy takes over.”

Sell’s plans include instating a “Tuition Runs Out Day,” where students have an opportunity to learn about the people whose funds are responsible for a collective 11,000 scholarships and 38 buildings on campus. She also plans to have a “Gratitude Event,” where students have an opportunity to appreciate what others have done to make their continuing education possible.

Approximately 7 percent of alumni donate after they graduate from CSU. This number, Sell claims, drags down CSU’s US News and World Report Ranking.

“We’re a top tier university,” Sell said. “If our percentage [of donating alumni] grows to match other universities, we jump 15 places in rank… We want our ranking to accurately reflect us as a university.”

Sell explained that the better the rating, the moreattention the university will receive for their research efforts, drawing in good teachers and gaining more grants.

While Sell’s employment did commence during a university-wide hiring freeze, Bohlander said since Sell is a part of the Foundation of Operation and Management, which is technically separate from the university, her salary is not funded by tuition.

“We receive no budget from the university or the state,” Bohlander said.

Collegian writer Emily Kribs can be reached at

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