Since last spring, Provost Nancy Cantor has been leading a group that is representative of a number of campus unitsfaculty and administrators as well as development staffto identify academic priorities. President Lee C. Bollinger also has been working with an advisory group of alumni and friends of the University.
Deans and others were asked last winter to come up with specifics, and several academic units have devoted faculty retreats to these discussions. Identification of priorities, under broad umbrella themes, will help focus additional discussions next spring on potential dollar goals for the project, which will exceed the then-record $1.4 billion raised in the 199097 Campaign for Michigan. That total is the largest ever raised by any public university.
This will be the Universitys fourth major campaign, the first occurring in the 1960s and the second in the early 1980s. Records for the first campaign were discarded at its conclusion, the thinking at the time, Bollinger noted in his remarks, being that major campaigns were undertaken only once a century.
A thriving University in need of more money and decreased state funding changed that picture in the 1980s, and the realization that University needs outstripped other sources of funding (state support and sponsored research) prompted that effort.
Shortly after the close of the 199097 campaign, interested observers and people on campus were asked how they felt about another one, he explained. We didnt want to venture into one unless there was energy and enthusiasm behind it. The key rule in efforts of this nature, he noted, is that you must not fail.
Everyone felt it was a critical step that needed to be taken, that we must do this. A campaign needs substance and hope to make it happen. We have to get everyone to think about it.
Cantor noted that the importance of the campaign cant be overstated. Our goal is to do what it takes to sustain and grow our success.
As a great public university, the U-M has certain imperativesexploration, education, opportunity, preservation and character. These are distinguishing characteristics that we at Michigan should feel very proud of, because we do all of them perhaps better than any other institution. But they are also, frankly, all very difficult to sustain.
The University also faces cost-driversbeing competitive in terms of innovation, escalating costs of recruiting and retaining talented faculty, and keeping tuition affordable.
While the University must continue to aggressively pursue sponsored research, and continue its productive partnership with the state, it also must invest in private support.
In each of the past campaigns, the University has improved advance planning efforts, and that discipline has helped transform the budget process, Cantor noted. This has resulted in outright gifts or endowment payouts that account for 5 percent to 10 percent of unit operating revenues. She anticipates that over the next 10 years this share of revenues can double. Support from individuals, foundations and corporations is the best opportunity for resource expansion.
Last January, Cantor and Susan K. Feagin, vice president for development, asked deans and directors to submit fundraising goals and priorities. We did not ask for wish lists, Cantor said. We wanted to initiate a disciplined campaign process right from the start, one that acknowledges the importance of coordinating all the Universitys revenue streamsstate support, sponsored research and gifts.
That request resulted in an evolving matrix of priorities covering the entire campus, and enabled the establishment of the University Campaign Planning Committee, which is considering the priorities as a whole, to see the connections among the priorities so we can begin to tell our campaign story.
Cantor is pleased with the groups energy and enthusiasm, which she said reflects the broader understanding among faculty and others of the campaigns importance to our future.
Two groups of cross-cutting priorities have emerged, she said. The first, thematic prioritieslife sciences, information technology, arts and culture, the student experience, globalizationreflect a sense of where the University wants to be.
The second identifies proposed uses of campaign money:
The campaign, Cantor added, also is an opportunity for the University community as a whole to reflect on what it is that makes us greatwhat we want to do better, how we want to focus old and new resources to accurately reflect academic strengths, the emerging areas we will have to address, donors interests, how we talk to people about the University and where we want to be.
We are not just raising money so we can say we have the best endowment, Cantor added. This effort will help us spread the message on and off campus about what the University is about. It will be conducted in a coordinated and disciplined fashion.
The bottom of these lists, Feagin noted, shows that other public institutions are getting into fundraising in a much bigger way, some with strong, aggressive campaigns that have enabled them to attract top students and faculty.
We always have done very well overall. The most promising source of growth is among our alumni, Feagin said.
Feagin also detailed the preliminary timeline for the campaign, noting that the University is in what traditionally is referred to as the quiet phase (advance planning in identifying priorities and case development) with no specifics announced.
Activities under way, some of which will continue after a formal launch, also include testing the feasibility and persuasiveness of proposed priorities, identifying potential donors through a program titled Networking for Michigan, identifying core funding/leadership gifts and increases in internal development staff, and determining the campaign infrastructure.
The University began counting gifts as campaign-related July 1. Specific goal-setting will begin next summer and continue through July 2002.