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Fundraising dominates work of college deans


Philanthropy, charitable endeavors monopolize top efforts as state support for higher education dives

College Station, Texas-As a weakened economy forces America's public institutions to be weaned from government aid, college deans are finding their once-traditional roles supporting programs, education and academics overshadowed by fundraising tasks and benefits.

Aside from overseeing Texas A&M's veterinary college programs, DeanRichard Adams, DVM, spends much of his time hobnobbing with potential donors.Pushed off state funded status, public universities now are considered stateassisted, a classification leaving large gaps in public aid.

"We've crippled our development staff, and I spend considerablymore time interacting with potential donors," says Adams, who's beenTexas A&M's dean since 1998 following a six-year run heading the Universityof Minnesota's veterinary program.

"I first became a dean in 1992, and the change from then to nowhas been remarkable. Fundraising started evolving at public universitiesin the late 1980s, but I was surprised even five years ago when it startedtaking an inordinate amount of my time."

Consuming as it is, Adams views fundraising as a challenge and opportunity.

"That's the way you have to look at it," he says. "It'spart of life in public education today. These are interesting times. Asdeans, we certainly have to think differently."

Necessary evil

For Dean Michael Blackwell, DVM, raising money for the University ofTennessee's veterinary college demands creativity as he spends much of histime working out ways to bring in donations.

"If you don't have a rich uncle, you've got to raise money,"Blackwell says. "Things are becoming more expensive for us to operate,and the traditional state support is being pulled back. It's truly a bigshift, and all the colleges are having to deal with that."

A big job

It's not just administration at public universities being forced to increasefundraising. Private institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania(UP) are losing money, too, as philanthropy falls and service costs rise.

"State schools don't have to pay for heat and electric bills, maintenancepeople; we have to pay for everything," says Barry Stupine, UP veterinaryschool's vice dean for administration and finance. "We have to takewhatever steps deemed appropriate to balance our budget. We're continuouslytrying to increase fundraising dollars."

So is Dean Joe DiPietro, DVM, who, at presstime, was attempting to savethe jobs of University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine employeeswhile facing more than $1 million in proposed state budget cuts to the program.

"I spend a lot of time fundraising, that's true," DiPietrosays. "The crux of the matter is colleges are relying more and moreon it, and it's a lot about finding out what pots of money are out there.

"As hard as it is, it's amazing to me that people in tough timesare willing to help us. They realize colleges are the gatekeepers of whatthe profession will be. The donations we receive show us people care."

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