Kansas University Endowment Association officials have been wrestling with the question of when to make a public announcement about their next capital campaign to raise money for the university.
Various matters, such as the university's leadership during the latter years of the Robert Hemenway administration and the current Bernadette Gray-Little chancellorship; the economy; results of various surveys of potential donors; the leadership of the endowment association; and who might serve as chairman of the drive all have contributed to the delay and indecision about the success and timing of a major campaign.
Some of the above questions remain and they deserve serious study and consideration. One of the big questions — who would serve as chairman of the drive — may be close to being resolved.
It is understood Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson, who leaves office in January 2011, is favored by some to chair the important campaign. He will be leaving the governorship in January and he brings many pluses to the position.
He is well known, he is an excellent communicator, he is a Kansas University graduate, he has been a successful businessman, he makes an excellent first impression, he was a successful governor and he would be able to seek appointments with most potential major contributors.
In past successful KU capital campaigns, the chancellor has played a critical role and has committed sizable parts of their schedules to traveling throughout the country telling the KU story. Hemenway was not engaged in a capital campaign and there are those who question the effectiveness of current Chancellor Gray-Little.
Nevertheless, if Parkinson would agree to chair the campaign, at least one of the endowment association's major and critical pieces of putting together the essential parts for a successful campaign will have been filled.
Unfortunately, with all the relatively recent changes in senior positions at the university, the athletics department scandal and the current problems in the School of Business, there is reason for alumni and friends to question the direction, leadership and cohesiveness of the school.
Endowment association officials have a heavy responsibility in structuring and then conducting a successful capital campaign, which can benefit the university not only by meeting its fiscal goal but also giving those interested in the university reason to believe the school has its act together.