Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2003

KU First’ pursues $500 million goal

August 16, 2003


"Five by four."

That's Forrest Hoglund's new slogan, and he's hoping it catches on among people with a wad of cash to give to Kansas University.

That's five, as in $500 million. And four, as in the beginning of 2004 -- when Hoglund would like to have the $500 million goal of the "KU First: Invest in Excellence" campaign raised.

That would leave the rest of 2004 -- the campaign is complete at the end of the year -- to go above and beyond the initial goal set five years ago.

"We'll go right on" after hitting the $500 million goal, said Hoglund, a Texas businessman who is the campaign's chairman. "There are a fair number of potential large givers still out there."

The latest updated figure for the Kansas University Endowment Association campaign was $403.9 million, announced in February. The next official figure will come in September, during the campaign's steering committee meeting.

But Hoglund is certain the $500 million goal won't be a problem.

"I never was worried we wouldn't reach it," he said. "If the market hadn't turned south, we'd be at $700 or $750 million."

That market drop, spurred by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, led to a severe drop in donations during much of 2002. The gala kickoff to the "public" phase of the campaign was Sept. 7, 2001.

But Dale Seuferling, the Endowment Association's president, said the partial market recovery has campaign officials optimistic.

"It seems as if the upturn in the market around April and May made a real effect on the psychology of giving," Seuferling said. "We had good responses in April and May. The freefall has seemed to stop and plateau."

A list of the gifts to the campaign mirror the variety of programs and projects under way at KU. They include everything from scholarships to a new softball stadium, from an engineering building to a new steam whistle.

They also include buildings at three KU campuses -- in Lawrence, at the Edwards Campus in Overland Park and at the Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Unlike some campaigns, about 89 percent of KU First gifts are outright gifts, rather than deferred or future gifts. That means the campaign's effect is immediate.

"There's no question the impact," Hoglund said. "You're seeing it all over campus."

But several large projects still remain. They include a new bioscience research facility, an addition to the Spencer Museum of Art, a biodiversity center with dinosaur display and a second scholarship hall. The campaign already funded one scholarship hall.

The campaign started with a focus on gifts over $1 million, and it's gradually focusing on smaller gifts. The next year will be spent soliciting gifts of $25,000 or more, with events planned in cities with high concentrations of KU graduates, such as Denver, New York and Chicago.

Next summer, Endowment Association officials will start a direct mail and telephone campaign.

"We'll get as broad as we possibly can," Seuferling said.

KU First is the largest fund-raising drive in university history. It's nearly double the amount raised in the last drive, "Campaign Kansas," which ran from 1987 to 1992.

Some at KU have said KU First suffered from poor timing, since it coincided with the market downturn. But Seuferling and Hoglund disagreed.

"The timing made the campaign even more important for KU," Hoglund said. "With the economy slowdown, we're able to keep KU going. We still have a good chance to reach the chancellor's goal of being a top-25 university."

-- Staff writer Terry Rombeck can be reached

at 832-7145.

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