Archive for Sunday, August 14, 2011

KU building momentum on major fundraising campaign

August 14, 2011

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Kansas University is continuing to build momentum on its ongoing major fundraising comprehensive campaign, which is less than a year from a major public kickoff.

The university is now in something of a “loud silent phase” of the campaign, said Dale Seuferling, president and chief executive officer of the KU Endowment Association.

This fall, Seuferling said, each school at KU will form campaign committees and will start determining how private financing can help the schools with their academic missions.

“A lot of great, exciting things will come at the stage when deans share the chancellor’s vision for the continued academic success of the university,” Seuferling said.

The public kickoff is slated for late April or early May, Seuferling said. At that event, the goal for the campaign will be announced, along with the campaign’s official name.

Previous campaigns have been named “KU First” and “Campaign Kansas.”

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said that a great deal of planning has already taken place. She has identified increased private funds as one of the major areas of focus for her tenure as chancellor.

She said the role of private financing was “extremely important” for universities today.

“Fortunately, we have a strong endowment organization with a long and solid history,” Gray-Little said.

Some major donations have already been announced:

  • The KU Cancer Center has raised more than $51 million in private funds to support its quest for National Cancer Institute designation and hopes to obtain $60 million before its application in September.
  • The KU School of Engineering received a $32 million gift from the estate of Charles and Mary Jane Bruckmiller Spahr, the largest estate gift in the university’s history. It will support student scholarships, student projects and student competitions through an endowed fund designed to give money to the school annually in perpetuity.
  • An anonymous $4 million gift to KU Medical Center will support spinal cord research there.
  • And a new faculty professorship in the School of Pharmacy will honor distinguished professor Val Stella.

Some major decisions for the upcoming campaign have already been made.

Three alumni couples are serving as leaders of the campaign: chairs Kurt and Sue Watson of Andover, along with co-chairs Mark and Stacy Parkinson of Potomac, Md., and Tom and Jill Docking of Wichita.

A steering committee featuring major KU donors from across the country has also been formed.

Traditionally, major fundraising campaigns have brought in hundreds of millions of dollars for scholarships, faculty professorships and building projects.

This campaign figures to be no different, according to campaign leaders. With public funds dwindling, not just at KU, but also across the country, private funds become more important, Kurt Watson said.

“These kinds of efforts are critical for the university,” he said.

Seuferling said KU Endowment will also work with social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the news of the ongoing efforts and to reach more people.

He said the campaign is picking up just as the economy is on the rebound. The economy hasn’t had a major effect on fundraising, except in the campaign’s timing, he said.

“We certainly were not wanting to be in a situation where we were publicly launching a campaign two years ago,” Seuferling said. “We’re looking forward to a better economic situation ahead.”

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