UM wants to raise $700 million Drive reflects need for its 13 institutions to gain private funds

October 21, 1997|By Marego Athans | Marego Athans,SUN STAFF

Squeezed by reduced state aid and pressure to control tuition, the University System of Maryland announced yesterday a campaign to raise $700 million in the next five years, the largest fund drive in the system's nine-year history.

The ambitious goal puts Maryland's system among the major fund-raisers in American public higher education and reflects a growing trend toward what some call the privatization of public universities.

At a time when taxpayers are scrutinizing state spending and parents are fretting over college costs, the universities' quest might seem perplexing.

But university officials say they are increasingly reliant on private gifts to lure talented faculty and students and invest in research, and in return corporations increasingly depend on public universities to produce a skilled work force.

"This is a real watershed in the history of the University of Maryland," Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg said yesterday.

"The Lord helps him that helps himself," he said, evoking the words of Ben Franklin. "So we're trying to help ourselves. And we're hoping the lords in Annapolis will help us too."

To reach the target, the 13 institutions will solicit alumni, foundations and corporations to persuade them to give twice as much as the $67 million annual average of recent years.

The system has raised $225 million over the past two years in the "quiet phase" of the campaign, drawing gifts from such big names as the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, which pledged $5 million, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, which gave $2.5 million, as well as the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Willard and Lillian Hackerman, and the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Foundation Inc.

Each campus has its goal for scholarships, professorships, research, technology, academic, arts and athletic programs and other needs. The goals range from $3 million at Coppin State College to $350 million at the College Park flagship campus.

"I've never seen a more positive time for a campaign," said John K. Martin, president of the University of Maryland Foundation Inc. "The Maryland economy has recovered, the stock market has created enormous new wealth. It's the best of times to launch this kind of effort."

The system will formally kick off the campaign Thursday with a luncheon for fund-raising volunteers in Baltimore.

The drive will depend heavily on large gifts; generally, 80 to 90 percent of total private donations come from 10 to 20 percent of its donors. Roughly 25 percent come from corporations, 20 percent from foundations and 55 percent from alumni and friends, system officials said.

The state's public institutions have about 250,000 living graduates, about 160,000 living in Maryland.

One goal is to boost the pool of income-generating investments known as the "endowment" to $384 million; it has jumped from $192 million to $337 million in the past two years. Each year, universities spend a part of that income, typically 4 percent to 7 percent of the pool.

The effort is the system's second fund drive since it was created in 1988. The first, which ended in 1993, set out to raise $200 million and collected nearly $300 million.

Compared with goals of some of the prestigious private institutions, the numbers don't seem so dramatic; Harvard University and Yale University have completed drives of $2.1 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively. Cornell raised $1.5 billion. Columbia has set a $1.15 billion goal. Hopkins is three years into a $900 million campaign.

Going for 'the big B'

But increasingly, public institutions are also getting into the game, even talking about "the big B."

The University of Michigan has raised almost $1.4 billion. The University of California at Los Angeles has announced a $1.2 billion drive. The University of Virginia has set a $800 million goal that it may increase to $1 billion. Penn State University has set a tentative figure of $800 million. The University of North Carolina has raised $440 million.

The trend toward private funding, which began 25 to 30 years ago, has intensified in the past decade as states have shifted money from higher education toward elementary and secondary schools, prisons, Medicaid and welfare.

In Maryland, state aid as a percent of UM's budget dropped one-third since 1990, from 45 percent to 30 percent, only recently turning upward again. The shortfall amounts to about $300 million a year, Langenberg said. Despite the campaign, the system will be pressing the General Assembly for more state aid.

Wide opposition to a recent tuition proposal whittled next year's increase to 4 percent, instead of the 6 or 7 percent that had been sought.

In better position to ask

Meanwhile, public institutions today are in a better position to ask for gifts. They are attracting more affluent students as tuition at private colleges soars.

Since World War II, corporations have increasingly found it in their interest to support public institutions because more of their employees -- and executives -- are graduates. Now, about 80 percent of the nation's college students are in public colleges and universities, said Allan Ostar, an academic search consultant in Washington and president emeritus of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

About seven years ago, corporations nationwide began giving more to public institutions than to private, said Martin of the UM foundation.

"Enlightened self-interest is clearly part of it," said Meg Woodside, senior vice president of NationsBank, which pledged $1 million to UM's campaign, for scholarships, programs and technology at six campuses.

"We're helping to ensure a qualified work force, and the availability of quality higher education is a vital component of an environment a company looks at when it makes relocation decisions," she said.

Pub Date: 10/21/97

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