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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
Giving is up 64% at WMU
(2007-11-28)
(wgvu) - Giving is up 64% at WMU

Nov. 29, 2007

By Mark Sanchez
marks@mbusinessreview.com

As enrollment begins to reverse a steady slide, fund raising at Western
Michigan University is on the upswing as well.

A major estate gift of about $1 million enabled annual giving to WMU to
track 64 percent higher through October than a year ago.

Between the July start of the 2008 fiscal year and Oct. 31, WMU raised
$4.9 million, an increase of $1.9 million and the highest four-month
total since the university completed a major capital campaign in 2003
that netted $162.8 million over five and a half years.

University Vice President of Development Bud Bender credits much of the
increase to the restoration several months ago of four development
director positions that were eliminated a few years earlier in budget
cuts. The development department, now with 11 directors, is working to
rebuild its financial outreach, Bender said.

We're seeing some of the fruits of the labor from the additional
staff, he said. We're starting to see that pay off.

The hiring last spring of President John Dunn also has generated
fund-raising momentum for WMU, Bender said.

WMU raised $22.3 million during 2007, about $12.5 million of which came
via cash and in-kind contributions. The remaining was through pledges
and deferred donations.

The university aims to raise $30 million or more this year,
Bender said.

The money raised goes to support a wide array of functions such as
student scholarships, faculty fellowships, endowed chairs and capital
projects.

If functioning correctly, it's a profit center for the university
and we help a lot of programs, Bender said.

The increase in giving comes amid dwindling public support for higher
education that now makes outreach and philanthropy essential, Bender
said.

We used to fall in that category where we provide the margin for
excellence, he said. We've moved to the realm where it is of
paramount importance.

WMU is now in the so-called quiet phase of a new major capital campaign
that Bender said will launch in 2008 and could exceed the scope and goal
of the earlier Centennial campaign that ended in 2003.

As the university works to shore up fund-raising efforts, it recently
embarked on a long-term marketing campaign to lure students. The 18- to
24-month campaign includes about 40 billboards around the state touting
WMU.

There is an incredibly competitive environment right now in
recruiting, university spokeswoman Cheryl Roland said, noting a
University of Michigan billboard near the WMU campus in Kalamazoo.

Everybody is in everybody's backyard, she said. We're
simply stepping up our attempt to raise the profile of the
institution.

After sliding in recent years, WMU's overall enrollment held steady
this fall at 24,433 308 fewer than last year. This year's freshman
class grew 2.7 percent, and WMU recorded an 8.5 percent increase in
undergraduate students transferring from other colleges and
universities.
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