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Radcliffe Receives Record Contributions

By Elizabeth S. Zuckerman

Radcliffe alumnae giving reached new heights this year, with gifts and pledges totalling more that $5.3 million.

The college also topped previous gift records for classes celebrating their 55th, 50th, 35th and 30th reunions.

Radcliffe officials said they see fundraising success as an affirmation of the college's efforts.

"It shows that women are becoming increasingly comfortable with the power of philanthropy to change the world and believe that Radcliffe is a place where they can effect that change," said Vice President for College Relations Bonnie Clendenning.

"It's been said that men give to maintain the status quo while women give to change the world," she said.

While funds raised this year are greater than in the past, Clendenning noted that this must be placed in context.

"As far back as there are records, these are record-breaking gifts," she said, explaining that until 1989, Harvard and Radcliffe's annual funds were joined.

"We [at Radcliffe] don't have a long tradition of raising money from our alumnae," she said.

But Clendenning said participation has always been strong.

"Our participation rates have always been very high but what has happened is that women are giving larger gifts," she said.

Although the past academic year was marked by controversy over female professors receiving tenure, Executive Director of the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association Mary McGrath Carty '74 said she had not heard any donors cite the desire for more female faculty as a reason for giving.

Clendenning said Radcliffe has received extensive support for the Bunting Institute, which provides fellowships for female junior faculty working toward tenure.

She said that while such support may be seen "both directly and indirectly" as support for the more tenured female professors, it was largely a "non-issue" for the college because Radcliffe has no official say in tenure appointments at Harvard.

And while there was alumnae outcry in April about a letter in which Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles expressed concern that women were not sufficiently involved in University fundraising, Clendenning said that the letter came too late in the fiscal year for its effects to be visible in this year's report.

The greater size of individual gifts may be due to a changing demographic, according to Carty.

"There are more women now earning more income so they are more inclined to contribute philanthropically to an institution they support," she said.

Although Carty said increased yields are probably due "in large part" to increased fundraising efforts, she also said she believed "people do give to Radcliffe out of a desire to ensure that women's voices are heard."

Clendenning agreed with Carty's assessment of the College's mission.

"We are leveraging the role that Radcliffe has to be a constant catalyst for convening people to look at areas where women's voices can, and should, be heard," she said.

The differences between Radcliffe and Harvard's programs mean that there is a "clear choice to be made" between the two colleges for potential donors, Clendenning said.

"Harvard is now making efforts, as [Director of the University Development Office Susan K.] Feagin has said, to address the fact that Harvard's traditional methods have been more attractive to men than to women donors," she said.

"It's fair to say that Harvard is looking to demonstrate that it is responsive to women students and alums so that women will feel comfortable giving to it if they weren't before," Clendenning said.

"Women give for different reasons than men. We're very aware of that," she said.

--Nicole Clarke contributed to the reporting of this story

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