Catonsville Community College takes a lesson in fund raising School's donor campaign is similar to those done at four-year institutions

September 27, 1995|By ELAINE TASSY | ELAINE TASSY,SUN STAFF

Catonsville Community College has joined bigger, four-year colleges and universities in the pursuit of donor money, aiming to raise $8 million in a capital campaign.

The college began its campaign on campus and through alumni in the spring, but plans to make it public today at a groundbreaking ceremony for a project that is its major beneficiary -- an applied technology center.

"Community colleges haven't historically been in the fund-raising business," said John Hayden, a Towson lawyer in his second year as the college's foundation president, explaining that the two-year institutions rely instead on state and county funds and federal grants.

Money raised to date includes a promise of $3 million in state and county bond funds, about $400,000 in alumni gifts and $100,000 from campaign co-chairs John and Nancy Erickson, owners of the Senior Campus Living retirement communities, Mr. Hayden said.

The bond money is designated for construction, and the school wants to raise an additional $1 million for equipment. So far, Mr. Hayden said, the building does not have a name, but "for an appropriate donor, we can name it."

The three-story building on the main quadrangle of the 123-acre campus in southwestern Baltimore County will be "home to computer training of all sorts," Mr. Hayden said.

Other goals of the campaign are $2 million for the college's scholarship fund; $500,000 for the Hilton Fund, which supports campus-based projects not covered in the budget; and $250,000 to reconstruct Gardener's Cottage, an old stone building that has fallen to disrepair.

Although the school has an annual fund drive, including a phone-a-thon and a bull roast, "We have never had anything this grand in the past," Mr. Hayden said.

The college's total budget is about $33 million, according to Mr. Hayden. He said tuition -- which almost doubled in the past five years -- brings in about $15 million a year, but that and public money are not enough.

Enrollment last fall was about 10,000 full-time and part-time students taking credit classes on the main campus and at centers in Owings Mills and Hunt Valley, but thousands more take summer classes or enroll in noncredit courses each year.

Mr. Hayden said the college has collected individual gifts, contacted large businesses and foundations and asked to be included in wills and as insurance beneficiaries.

Catonsville's president, Frederick J. Walsh, said there was initial doubt that the college could raise so much money. "We never thought we were ready -- we didn't think we were well-known enough in the community, nor did we think we had the expertise to do it properly," he said.

Before the campaign was launched, Dr. Walsh said, the school had a feasibility study done that showed that a fund-raiser would be most successful if the school was better known in the community. It began a community awareness campaign last spring in which elected officials and business leaders toured the campus, and the school made an effort to widen its visibility.

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