UF Capital Campaign Earmarks $30 Million for CLAS

The University of Florida's $500 million, five-year "It's Performance That Counts" Capital Campaign is off to an impressive start. At the "Soirée at the Swamp," a black-tie gala held during the campaign's official kickoff weekend in September, President Lombardi announced that "quiet phase" fundraising efforts which began in the spring of 1996 have already pulled in more than half of the campaign's monumental $500 million goal.

President Lombardi fires up the crowd at the "Soirée at the Swamp," a black-tie dinner/fund-raiser held during the Capital Campaign Kickoff weekend. The Florida Gym was transformed into a "swamp" for the event, complete with trees, shrubbery, and Spanish moss. Participants feasted on "Cuisine Du Swamp," including "Everglades Greens," Pommes de terre Okeechobee," and "Miccosukee Vegetables." A fireworks display capped off the gala evening.

So what do these figures mean for CLAS? Carter Boydstun, CLAS Director of Development: "Of the $500 million total, $30 million has been earmarked for CLAS." So far, Boydstun reports, CLAS fundraising efforts have succeeded in attaining nearly $18 million of the $30 million goal. Ten new term professorships, endowed awards that provide recipients with a one-year $5,000 salary supplement and a $1,000 research stipend, have already been secured, and CLAS hopes to receive ten more. A recent anonymous gift of $1.7 million will create a departmental professorship in chemistry, and thanks to a recent gift from Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Keene, the old language lab in Dauer Hall soon will become a beautifully renovated Faculty Center, named after its benefactors.

Thanks to the generosity of Kenneth Keene (Mathematics, '47) and his wife, Janet, the old language lab in Dauer Hall will soon be transformed into the state-of-the-art "Keene Faculty Center." An architect's rendering of the renovation is visible next to the couple.

According to the campaign case statement, creating endowments is a strategic way "to enhance the performance of our faculty, to support students and to fund the restoration of two campus landmarks [Flint Hall for classrooms and departmental offices and the former Women's Gym (also know as the "Old Gym") for the Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research]. Private endowments give the college long-term competitive advantages because they are dependable sources of revenue year after year. When invested wisely, they are an effective hedge against rising costs." Such endowments are often created from single large gifts, like term professorship donations, but they can also be created from amalgamating numerous smaller gifts. The English Department, for example, created an endowed "Alumni Professorship" by combining many small donations. The three-year award, which includes a salary stipend, allows the department to reward and honor outstanding senior faculty members.

Although alumni contribute nearly 60% of the gifts, it's not always easy to convince CLAS graduates to give back to the college. Joan Ruffier, president-elect of the UF Foundation and CLAS alumna (English '61) explains: "alumni who go on for advanced degrees in areas outside CLAS, for example, tend to first identify with - and therefore contribute to - their college of graduate study." Ruffier, who is also the first female president of the Board of Regents and a recently honored "Alumna of Achievement," compares CLAS's predicament with that of the UF library system. "Few people identify with the library enough to support it financially although everyone needs it and uses it. CLAS is in a similar boat. People may consider Arts and Sciences the backbone or 'centerpiece' of the university, but because it's such a broad, diverse college, fewer donors than we'd like approach us about making major gifts." Department-specific giving (of both annual and major gifts) tempers this problem, as alumni/donors are able to identify better with individual departments and to witness the direct results their money can have there. Ruffier, for example, contributes annually to CLAS and specifies that her money should go to the English department.

The CLAS Major Gifts Committee - made up of alumni, faculty, administrators and friends of the college - discuss the progress of the campaign. Committee members include: Al O'Neill (chair), George Butler, Kathy Cardwell, Gary Gerson, Jean and Robin Gibson, William Goza, Michael Grasley, Thomas McGinty, George Palmer, Robert Patterson, Samuel Proctor, David Rich, Robert Ross, Hugh Sawyer, Donald Senterfitt, Dorothy and Terrence Smiljanich, Jan Smith, Jon Thompson, and Herb Yardley.

"It's crucial for potential donors to understand the direct impact their gifts have on college performance," says Boydstun. Take, for example, the Arthur Marshall, Jr. Eminent Scholar Chair that was started in 1986 with a $600,000 donation (from two private foundations seeking to honor Marshall, a distinguished Florida naturalist) and a $400,000 state match. This gift enabled the zoology department to entice internationally known ecologist Buzz Holling to join their faculty. In the last seven years, Holling has won (with Lance Gunderson) $4.8 million in research and program grants; he has facilitated the training of over 160 scientists and political/public leaders at Everglades workshops, and he has taught ecosystems research to over 140 graduate students. He is presently working to establish the implementation of sustainable development policies internationally.

Impressive results like these help convince new donors to "invest" in UF. New investments, in turn, finance more programs like Holling's, perpetuating the kind of measurable success the "It's Performance That Counts" campaign strives for.