Hopkins raises bar on funding University boosts fund-raising target to $1.2 billion by 2000

An increase of $300 million

Extended drive to focus on student aid

trustee pledges XTC $10 million

May 04, 1998|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- With more than $900 million in gifts and pledges in hand two years ahead of schedule, the Johns Hopkins University's board of trustees decided yesterday to extend the school's fund-raising campaign to $1.2 billion -- a $300 million increase to address pressing needs such as student financial aid.

The trustees also announced that one of their own, Bethesda construction magnate A. James Clark, has jump-started the extended campaign with a pledge of $10 million. The money will help construct a new biomedical engineering building, which will be named for him, on the university's Homewood campus.

Meeting in New York at the corporate headquarters of Bloomberg News, the financial news company founded by trustees Chairman Michael R. Bloomberg, the Hopkins board approved seeking the increase. When the campaign began in 1994, the goal was to raise $900 million by 2000.

The board also approved the hiring of Ilene Joy Busch-Vishniac as dean of the Whiting School of Engineering. Busch-Vishniac, 43, is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She will be the first woman to run a school other than nursing at Hopkins and one of only a handful of female engineering deans in the country.

Bloomberg, a 1964 graduate of the engineering school, said competition from other colleges and universities has driven Hopkins to continue its 4-year-old fund-raising initiative despite the university's $1.16 billion endowment.

"We were successful in a record time, but in that [four years] we fell from 20th-largest endowment to 23rd," Bloomberg said. "There has been more competition for the best students."

For that reason, a major focus of the continuing fund drive will be to boost the university's anemic endowment for student financial aid. President William R. Brody said he has become increasingly concerned since taking office in 1996 about Hopkins' limited ability to attract top students, particularly undergraduates, with scholarships and loans.

"This has got to be our highest priority," Brody said, "to make our education more affordable for both undergraduate as well as graduate students."

Only $29 million of Hopkins' endowment is earmarked for undergraduate scholarships, loans or work-study. The average student-aid endowment is $163 million at the 30 elite colleges and universities with which Hopkins sees itself competing.

Hopkins' undergraduate tuition of $21,700 is near average for comparable private schools, but the university lags in the amount of scholarship help it can offer low- and middle-income students.

About 60 percent of Homewood campus undergraduates get at least some need-based financial aid, and officials say the number seeking scholarships or loans has increased sharply since 1990. The average Hopkins undergraduate receiving financial aid leaves school owing $16,000, officials say. University officials say costs are forcing students to borrow more, work more while in school and to try to finish in three years instead of four.

Other schools with which Hopkins competes for students are able to give more help, with $1.44 in endowment for every dollar of tuition revenue. Hopkins, by comparison, has 41 cents in endowment for every tuition dollar. The situation is forcing the university to divert tuition money that otherwise would be spent for other needs, such as the library.

Instead of competing for students by cutting tuition, many colleges and universities are using scholarships and fellowships as a lure.

"We could have seen tuition wars," Brody said. "What we're seeing is financial aid wars."

The Milton S. Eisenhower Library is the university's second priority for the extra donations it hopes to raise.

'Might seem like slam-dunk'

Hopkins officials, having completed one of the largest fund-raising drives in higher education two years ahead of schedule, acknowledge that they are taking a chance in seeking even more.

"Just raising another $300 million might seem like a slam-dunk," Brody said. "A number of alumni and friends of the university have stretched to make incredible gifts to Hopkins. Those people we recognize have made an extraordinary sacrifice and understand they will not be able to make an additional contribution."

But Brody said university officials believe there are alumni who have not been tapped and others who already have given who could be in a position to donate more because of the booming economy and soaring stock market.

Kicking off the drive for the new goal is the promised gift from the chairman and chief executive officer of Clark Enterprises Inc. One of its subsidiaries, Clark Construction Group Inc., is the nation's largest privately held general building contractor. The company has built some of the area's largest sporting facilities, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Prince George's County and the MCI Center in Washington, and the outpatient center and new cancer research building at John Hopkins Hospital.

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