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Aiming high in Corvallis.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Ed Ray, president of Oregon State University, is well aware that just as his institution is launching the public phase of its first comprehensive fund-raising campaign, the University of Oregon is already wrapping up a drive that has far surpassed its goal by gathering $717 million in contributions.

But OSU hasn't suddenly awakened to its fund-raising opportunities. When Ray officially announced its campaign last Friday, OSU had been already been quietly contacting donors since 2004 and was more than halfway toward its goal of $625 million. By going public, OSU signaled a confidence that it can reach its target - and can make private support an increasingly significant source of the university's strength.

OSU is the last of the Pac 10 universities to open a comprehensive fund-raising campaign. That doesn't mean the university hasn't relied on donors' generosity in the past. But now, for the first time, OSU has developed a university-wide plan for strengthening key programs through private support, with the long-term aim of becoming one of the nation's top 10 land grant colleges. In the process, OSU intends to permanently increase what Ray calls the university's fund-raising "productivity," which has already grown to $75 million in 2007-08 from $43 million in 2002-03.

Ray came to OSU in 2003 from Ohio State University, which has conducted a series of successful fund-raising campaigns. He hired J. Michael Goodwin, who had run a billion-dollar campaign at Georgetown University, as president and chief executive officer of the OSU Foundation. The OSU campaign doesn't have mega-donors such as UO benefactors Phil Knight and Lorry Lokey, at least not yet - but the school has received 62 gifts of $1 million or more in the past, and 400 of $100,000 or more. The capacity for a successful campaign is clearly waiting to be tapped.

Fund-raising has become increasingly important at universities everywhere - indeed, no college, public or private, can aspire to the highest levels of achievement without the support of donors. Private money can endow professorships, allowing a university to recruit sought-after faculty members. It can support scholarships and fellowships that attract the most promising students. It can pay for buildings, laboratories and library collections that support teaching and research. Ideally, all of these supplement, rather than replace, the basic financial support provided by state funds and tuition.

The UO is already benefiting from an ambitious fund-raising effort. OSU's campaign will undoubtedly compete for the support of some donors, though the overlap should be slight - and some people with the financial ability to support both universities will do so. From a statewide perspective, it's important for both of Oregon's leading academic institutions to strengthen their programs through fund-raising. OSU's campaign will include efforts to provide greater support for engineering, agriculture, veterinary science, pharmacy and other programs that are not duplicated at the UO. And programs found at both schools, such as business and liberal arts, are vital to any university, and improving them on one campus will not harm the other.

The goal of OSU's campaign is to raise $625 million by 2011. But the money is only a means to an end. The strategic plan that the fund-raising campaign is designed to support calls for such things as increasing the number of grants and contracts awarded to OSU faculty, improving the student retention rate and climbing higher in national rankings of academic prominence. Donations will make progress toward such goals possible, while progress will in turn attract donations.

The UO has already discovered how that virtuous cycle can begin to yield fruit. Oregonians should be glad to see OSU making a similar effort.
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Title Annotation:Editorials; OSU hopes to replicate UO's fund-raising success
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Oct 30, 2007
Words:602
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