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Central Fund Still Lags Behind Schools in Capital Campaign


As the University's capital campaign rockets toward meeting 80 percent of its overall goal, one area of the fundraising drive has been left on the ground-and that is the way President Neil L. Rudenstine planned it.

The campaign is divided into 10 "units": one for each of the nine schools (with the Dental School included within the Medical School) and a tenth fund that serves a miscellany of causes.

It includes the President's University Fund, a $235 million venture to raise money for University-wide professorships, project ADAPT and other cross disciplinary projects such as the interfaculty initiatives.

It also holds funds for arboretums and museums not under the care of a particular school and undesignated funds to be used by the University at large.

With less than two years left in the five-year campaign, the nine schools have raised between 62 and 115 percent of their goals, according to Aug. 31 figures from the Development Office. But fundraisers have not promoted the central administration fund as heavily as other areas, leaving it only 54 percent of the way to its $265 million goal.

This has been deliberate, says Rudenstine, who has put the needs of the schools over those of the central administration.

"I've felt from the beginning that the most important thing is to realize the goals of the particular schools," Rudenstine says.

Hence, donors at upcoming fundraising events will not hear about efforts such as the President's discretionary fund that are seen as competing for donors with the schools.

Since his arrival, a crucial part of Rudenstine's mission has been to bring what he has called the "fiendishly decentralized" parts of the University into closer working relationships, but he has had to approach this goal with caution, for the various deans are very wary of any encroachment on their territory.

The campaign itself is an example of this tension. It is atypical in its comprehensive approach: this is the first time the entire University has undertaken a capital campaign at the same time, and the University-wide planning process Rudenstine is using to mark its beginning and end has never been equalled in scope.

But while the deans are working together in a "University" campaign, the monies that they raise go to coffers under their individual control. For this reason, a "cymbal clanging" approach to central administration fundraising could be seen as an attempt by Rudenstine to diminish the deanships.

Some have criticized the President for failing to pursue central administration funding more aggressively, but other high-ranking officials question how appealing such a general discretionary fund is to donors, who typically seek specific projects to sponsor.

Vice President for Development and Alumni Affairs Thomas M. Reardon once commented that the largest problem of raising money for the President's fund is that there are no graduates of the University and no alumni of the central administration.

Taken together, these two reasons might explain why the most successful part of the University fund is the interfaculty initiatives, which serve the different schools more directly. Not only is it easier to raise money for the particular programs, but they involve-rather than compete with-the various schools.

Sources say efforts to raise money for the initiatives, which have a $75 million goal, are on the rise. The Development Office now has three professionals working only on the initiatives and other central programs.

For their part, the deans of the schools have noticed the President's emphasis.

"To [the administration's] credit I think they've put the schools first," says Jerome T. Murphy, dean of the Graduate School of Education (GSE).

The GSE has traditionally had difficulty raising funds. It stands at 72 percent of its goal-far behind the professional schools, which benefit from wealthier alums.

Right now, finding donors to endow chairs is a major challenge. An ever-present reminder of the goal-and its accompanying obstacles-Murphy keeps a miniature wooden chair on the coffee table in his office.

And so, as Murphy looks for benefactors, he says he is grateful for the President's priorities.

"What they did choose to do helped the school," he says.

As for Rudenstine, he remains optimistically content with the progress of his fund, willing to wait until the schools are closer to meeting their goals before running a full court press for the central administration.

"I think we have a good chance of achieving [the goal], and if we don't, we'll come very close," he says.

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