The University Record, September 14, 1992

U launches $1 billion fund-raising campaign

By Jane R. Elgass

When the University this Friday officially announces the Campaign for Michigan in a series of mainly invitation-only events, it will be the largest fund-raising project ever mounted by a public university. The fund-raising program and its $1 billion goal have been described by many as the University’s most important undertaking of this decade.

Equally important as the dollar goal will be the work by University officials and volunteers nationwide to establish a firm base of ongoing voluntary support of the University that will endure after the Campaign’s completion and carry the University into the 21st century with a more stable financial base.

“The Campaign is terribly important to the future of the University,” says President James J. Duderstadt. “It’s vital to sustaining the quality of the institution. While a number of programs and activities will benefit from the project, a major goal is a permanent increase in our level of private support.”

With state appropriations down in real terms, tuition rates pushing the limits of what students and families can handle, and no increase and possibly a decrease in federal support, the University is working to raise the level of private support over the long term to approach that provided by each of the other three revenue sources.

Duderstadt notes that while $1 billion seems like a great deal of money, “it costs $2 billion per year just to run the University. The $1 billion goal represents about 5 percent of our total budget over the next decade. Funds raised during the Campaign will compensate for losses in state assistance and, if we are successful, give us a base for future growth.”

The $1 billion goal includes $850 million in gifts and pledges for facilities, endowment and immediately spendable funds, and $150 million in bequests. Of the $850 million, $110 million is targeted for facilities, $340 million for endowment, and $400 million for unrestricted use.

While the Campaign will not solve any of the University’s short-term financial problems—and is not intended to—“it is vital to sustaining the quality of its people and programs into the future,” says Provost Gilbert R. Whitaker Jr.

“The Campaign is clearly the way to go for the long-term, allowing us to build support by alumni and friends. It also is a way to keep people informed of our aspirations and needs.”

For the short-term, Whitaker says, the University is relying on cost-containment and internal reallocation programs, as well as an almost across-the-board salary freeze this year, which he says will put the University on a stronger fiscal base next year.

Whitaker notes that the University units participating in the Campaign—all 17 schools and colleges and a number of other units on the Ann Arbor campus, as well as U-M-Flint and U-M-Dearborn—are “excited, very engaged” in the project. “The number of volunteers is way up.”

Sharing in that excitement is School of Music Dean Paul C. Boylan, who for the past two years has headed a six-member committee that helped units set realistic goals for themselves and thrashed out many of the details of Campaign logistics. (Other members of the Academic Programs Group Subcommittee on Development are deans Giles G. Bole, Medical School; John H. D’Arms, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and vice provost for academic affairs; Rhetaugh G. Dumas, School of Nursing; and Edie N. Goldenberg, LS&A.)

Boylan also notes that decisions on unit goals did not come from the top down.

“The University didn’t come up with a goal and then tell units what their portion would be. The units themselves identified their needs and then we and the central development operation counseled them on what they might realistically expect to raise, gave them a realistic perspective on what could be achieved,” he explains.

“I initially met deans and unit development officers to help them assemble their wish lists—everything they’ve ever wanted. That included at one time more than $600 million in bricks and mortar, which has been pared down to $110 million.

“We worked with the units to bring reality to the wish list, encouraging them to focus on what, based on their resources and staffing, would be realistic.”

For this campaign, Boylan notes, much of the work in attaining goals will be undertaken by staff in the units participating in the Campaign, rather than by the centralized development office, which will provide overall coordination and counsel.

Boylan and his group faced a number of challenges beyond trimming down wish lists.

—Bringing uniformity to the Campaign, which included determining the base funding needed for endowed professorships, research assistantships and graduate fellowships.

—Establishing policies and priorities regarding access to donors because many donors have multiple interests. “We didn’t want several units approaching the same donor, which has happened in the past.”

—Defusing “the inevitable tension” that can arise between the central development office and the units. “We worked to clarify interactions and generate a strong sense of cooperation, and I think we have succeeded.”

—Developing guidelines that, given the dichotomy of the units and central operations, would result in a “family resemblance” among the various programs, such as the use of a logo and quality of case statements.

Boylan and his group also worked on establishing Universitywide Campaign goals, determining what overarching programs and facilities—priorities for the University as a whole that also address individual unit needs—would be featured objectives. “We did a lot of soul-searching. There were winners and losers, but that was really necessary.”

Boylan notes that more than 50 percent of the Campaign income is targeted for faculty support, in terms of endowed chairs, funds for visiting and guest scholars, research funding, and research and teaching facilities.

And he was impressed in his work with the units by “the high level of attention, the high priority given to support for faculty, research, endowed chairs and student support.

“Without exception, the faculty spoke with unusual passion on these issues. They are extraordinarily informed spokespeople for their units. They are in touch with the needs of their units.

“If the Campaign is successful, and I believe it will be, the University’s learning environment will be substantially enriched. The Campaign also will make it possible for us to attract the most intelligent and artistically gifted students and provide access for students whose financial needs are great.

“The Campaign,” he adds, “will provide a margin of excellence that will separate the University from its peers.”

Boylan feels the University “is ready to embark on the Campaign. The level of commitment, cooperation among units, strong leadership of Joe Roberson [executive director of the Campaign], and the extraordinary interest and support of the national volunteer leadership will make us successful despite the daunting level we’re seeking.”