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Regents Elevating Fundraising to New Level of Importance

Atlanta — January 13, 2009

When it comes to fundraising, Georgia is one of only seven states with two or more public universities ranked among the Top 100 university endowments, but there is plenty of room for Georgia’s public colleges and universities to further increase revenue in order to maintain the quality of the education they provide.

That’s the overarching conclusion of a report to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) by a task force charged with assessing the ability of the System’s institutions to raise private funds and proposing improvements. After hearing a presentation on the report today, the regents immediately embarked on invigorating the University System’s fundraising efforts by green-lighting the task force’s plan for improvements.

“With budget cuts becoming more and more inevitable, it is important for University System institutions to look to external funds to enhance their educational quality,” said Shelley Nickel, the University System’s associate vice chancellor for planning and implementation. “This report is the first of its kind. It gives us information we can use to build fundraising capacity so that we can continue to honor our commitment to the regents’ Strategic Plan goal to maintain affordability.”

“The report delivered to the board by the Task Force on Philanthropy contains a very systematic survey of what each University System institution is doing with regard to fundraising,” said task force Chair Dr. David Potter, president of North Georgia College & State University. “Information on fundraising in higher education is very limited, so this data is extremely valuable. It gives us a baseline from which to work on improvements and monitor our progress.”

Toward that goal, the Board of Regents today instructed the task force to proceed with a plan to set philanthropic targets for USG campuses. Campus presidents will negotiate their institutional fundraising targets with the University System Office and submit 2009-2012 institutional fundraising plans to Nickel’s office that will be incorporated into their annual performance reviews.

The task force also recommended:

  • establishing a Strategic Funding Initiative for Philanthropy to strengthen fundraising capacity (particularly at the state and two-year college sectors, where philanthropic endeavors are under-developed as compared to other sectors), with the goal of each campus having at least one full-time professional dedicated to philanthropy; and
  • having the board, the USG campuses and their affiliated foundations undertake initiatives, both individually and collectively, to provide resources to increase fundraising staffs and the capacity of USG institutions to conduct effective fundraising.

The report of the Task Force on Philanthropy cited an annual listing of college and university endowments in The Chronicle of Higher Education, noting that, for Fiscal Year 2007, Georgia Tech ranked 18th among public institutions on the list, with an endowment market value of $1.6 billion, and the University of Georgia ranked 35th with an endowment market value of $771 million. The University System’s total endowment market value for this period was $2.83 billion, and the research-university sector accounted for nearly 90 percent of this total.

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