By Tracy Galway
Ohio University is well ahead of projections for its fiscal year 2009 fund-raising goals, despite a struggling economy.
Alumni and friends have donated $15.3 million since July 1, 2008, which is less than $5 million shy of University Advancement's $20 million annual goal. That amount does not even take into account the $93 million that the university received from the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ estate.
"It's encouraging that, even in challenging economic times, Ohio University alumni and friends make supporting our university a priority," said Howard R. Lipman, vice president for University Advancement and president and CEO of The Ohio University Foundation.
"Last year, our total gift revenue into the foundation in fiscal year 2008 totaled just over $27 million," Lipman said. "The quickest way for our endowment to grow is by raising funds at a continually increasing level. Our goal is to reach an average giving of $30 million per year," he added.
Ohio University's colleges, schools, units and departments depend on the foundation's support. With state funding levels more at risk than ever, the university must rely more on philanthropic revenue.
"Private donations provide important opportunities for students and faculty that would not otherwise be available if we relied exclusively on tuition and state funding," said Ben Ogles, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
"Students are also given opportunities -- such as summer research, study abroad, fellowships, travel to research conferences and other activities -- that would be financially impossible without the generosity of our alumni and friends," he said.
"Faculty benefit through start-up funding for new ideas and new avenues of research or in areas of scholarship or creative activity," Ogles added. "In a time of tight government funding, these types of activities could not be funded by our typical budgets."
Foundation board Chair Frank Krasovec (BBA '65, MBA '66) recently restructured the board to ensure it spends the majority of its time on fund-raising activities. This included streamlining the finance committees and establishing four new committees: development-management, athletics, grants and funding, and technology-transfer.
"In addition to our fiduciary role of overseeing the management of our investments, we must be advocates of Ohio University's fund-raising/development efforts," Krasovec said
In many ways, the board's activities are about paying forward.
"A consistent theme among our board members is that if not for the resources made available to them through similar philanthropy when they were students, they would not have experienced the enrichment of their lives that Ohio University provided," said foundation board secretary Steve Schoonover (BFA '67).
"We're the promise of Ohio University," Schoonver said. "Let's make sure when people come to this special place, they realize that when you get a promise, you've got to give a promise. That promise is to give back. And I hope other people will be moved to give something back to this special place, too."
Updated Feb. 6, 2009