Good start for college fund-raiser

HCC campaign receives pledge of $500,000 over 5 years

Key goal: new construction

Classroom equipment at cost of $3 million also on wish list

March 15, 2001|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

Howard Community College officials are quietly preparing for the biggest fund-raising campaign in the institution's 30-year history. They don't plan to begin until next year, but they have a good head start: A Howard County couple has pledged $500,000, by far the largest single gift to the Columbia campus.

Given by Ellicott City residents Pete and Beth Horowitz, the gift is on par with top donations to several community colleges in the Baltimore region.

The Horowitzes - who founded Engineering Vision and Innovation, a Columbia business that makes wireless communication systems - are donating the money over five years.

Pete Horowitz, who chairs the board of the Educational Foundation, HCC's nonprofit fund-raising arm, figured the timing was right. He said he and his family want to help what they consider to be "an inspired place."

"Just seeing the way the students click there - that captured our imagination," said Horowitz, whose son Matthew graduated with honors from HCC in 1989.

"When you see it done so well, it begs to be supported, encouraged and nourished," he said.

HCC administrators, who are drawing up a list of priorities to determine how much money they need to raise, were overjoyed by what they hope will be the first of many large gifts.

"We're tickled," said Ardell Terry, who is in charge of major fund raising at HCC. "It's raised the bar for our hopes and dreams."

Like community colleges nationwide, HCC is far below the major-league fund-raising realm of four-year universities. Last fiscal year, the school took in a little less than $700,000 in donations.

For years, HCC put most of the money toward student scholarships. Officials did not think about using donations for expensive projects such as buildings.

"If you're raising a couple hundred thousand a year ... you'd only get a few windows," Terry said, joking.

But times are changing. HCC officials say they must have new buildings to keep up with enrollment growth, and they don't know if they can wait for state funding.

The instructional building that officials hope to start this summer, for which they expect to get state and county money to construct, needs something more, Terry said: $3 million in equipment for the classrooms.

"The wish list is long," she said. "If you add up all the costs of everything we need, it's like $100 million - and there's no way we can do anything like that, so the task is to really narrow it down."

HCC's fund-raisers are in what they call the "silent phase" of the campaign, quietly trying to build momentum and relationships so officials can ask for large gifts later without getting the door slammed in their faces.

"We're hearing that our sister community colleges are all doing the same kind of prep work," Terry said. "We're all looking for expansions in buildings. Every one of us [is] pretty much in the same boat."

Community colleges nationwide are gearing up for big fund-raising campaigns, agreed Ernest Notar, vice chancellor for institutional advancement at the Community College of Baltimore County.

"Community colleges are doing what four-year public universities had to do 10 years ago - that is, confront the fact that public dollars aren't sufficient to do the job," he said.

Baltimore County's colleges raise about $300,000 a year, although in 1997 they got a one-time gift surpassing all others in the metro area - $1.25 million.

"I think we have huge, untapped potential," Notar said.

Anne Arundel Community College officials also want to increase donations for needs such as technology upgrades and building renovations.

Ann Attanasio, executive director for institutional development at Anne Arundel, thinks the trend toward more fund raising is prompted in part by a coming of age for community colleges.

"Most community colleges are not all that old," she said.

Said Jacqueline Harrington, in charge of fund raising at Carroll Community College: "For everyone, it's a new process."

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