Professor Schaefer? Friends raising money to endow chair at UM, Hopkins

October 29, 1994|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Sun Staff Writer

Friends of the 58th governor of Maryland are asking wealthy backers to bankroll his return to private life as Professor William Donald Schaefer.

An effort is well under way to raise $2.5 million for a professorship to be shared at the outset by the University of Maryland College Park and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The first occupant of the William Donald Schaefer Chair in Public Policy would be . . . William Donald Schaefer.

After months of fretting about how the energetic governor would make it in retirement after more than 40 years of public life, his friends hit upon the professorship idea.

They believe Mr. Schaefer's experience, including 15 years as mayor of Baltimore, would make him a smash in the classroom.

Mr. Schaefer, who turns 73 next week, received a law degree from theUniversity of Baltimore in 1942.

The universities also would draw on his prestige in their fund-raising efforts and on his continuing desire to work on such problems as housing and urban development, along with other policy issues.

A copy of the proposal, obtained by The Sun, anticipates that Mr. Schaefer would accept the position. But organizers of the fund drive say he has not made a final decision. The governor is in Asia and was not available for comment.

A salary for the post, as yet undetermined, would be covered by interest earned on the endowment.

Already prominent in Maryland on everything from buildings to bridges, the governor's name would appear on a chair -- the term given by universities to positions of status with handsome funding. The University of Maryland's largest endowment for a professorship is now $1.5 million.

The chair and $2 million of the endowment would be at College Park, but the occupant would have an office at Hopkins in Baltimore. About $500,000 would be provided for expenses and other administrative costs for up to five years at Hopkins,

About $800,000 has been raised, fund-raisers said.

If Mr. Schaefer took the job, he would stay for as long as he wanted, lecturing, conducting seminars, speaking on public -Z issues, writing and working on projects.

"He would be a real asset in terms of his involvement with students.Precisely what he does will depend on his interests and our needs," said Hopkins President William C. Richardson.

"You wouldn't necessarily ask him to teach a class of 50 students, but you might ask him to work in a seminar setting, to work on projects and serve as an adviser on a whole range of projects," Dr. Richardson said.

"I would attend those lectures," said R. Robert Linowes, a Bethesda zoning lawyer who said he suggested the idea months ago to Mr. Schaefer.

"I think he would be fantastic. I'm in awe of what he knows and understands and how he evaluates situations -- better than anyone I've ever seen."

Mr. Linowes said that he has not been asked to contribute but that he has been invited to a Nov. 13 fund-raising luncheon at the Metropolitan Club in Washington.

In the initial round of solicitations, about 15 individuals and corporations were asked to consider presenting gifts. Baltimore

Gas and Electric Co. pledged $75,000 at its Oct. 21 board meeting. And the Abell Foundation's board agreed to a grant of $100,000.

The personal fund raising has been conducted by Lainy Lebow-Sachs, a Schaefer aide, and Donald N. Langenberg, chancellor of the University of Maryland System. They have been handing out an elegantly printed brochure explaining the objectives of the fund drive and the procedures to be followed in establishing the position.

"It's going extremely well," said Ms. Lebow-Sachs, who said she is working as a volunteer.

Asked whether she thought there was a problem soliciting contributions from executives while Mr. Schaefer is still in office, she said, "We're making the calls now, but a lot of people don't answer right away. Most of the pledges will come after the election. But we have to start sometime."

Not all of the businesses contacted by the team have made pledges, and one associate of the governor's likened the idea to "buying a crutch for a lame duck."

But everyone who spoke for the record endorsed the idea enthusiastically.

"We really are grateful for his years of service, and as one of the largest companies in the city and the state, we feel it's an honor to contribute," said Arthur J. Slusark, spokesman for BGE. The money, he said, comes from stockholders' funds, not from utility customers.

The fund raising is being directed by John K. Martin, president of the University of Maryland Foundation at College Park. After Mr. Schaefer left the post, Mr. Martin said, the legacy would be a rich one for the university.

"As we try to recruit good people in a national and international environment," he said. "we have to be competitive with what other universities are offering." Virginia, he said, offers matching grants for private money raised for chairs at state institutions. The University of Virginia has about 100 such chairs, many more than Maryland has.

"Endowed chairs haven't been a focus of fund raising for us, but they very much need to be. I think the governor's tickled with the prospect that this new chair will help us attract a world-class faculty member."

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