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August 14, 2004

Connecticut Givers Give Plenty


FROM THE NUTMEG STATE comes word of a six year fundraising campaign that has exceeded its goal by over 50%. The goal of the capital campaign was $300 million, and donations totaled $471 million.

Despite UConn’s vaunted men’s and women’s basketball prowess over the span of the campaign, John Martin, president of the UConn Foundation, claimed that university's success was attributable to the quality of the fund-raising staff at the foundation and to student volunteers who phoned alumni to appeal for donations.

Ahem.

Several UConn alumni who were recipients of these calls reported that these student volunteers almost immediately touted UConn’s athletic prowess as a donation hook. Makes sense to lead with one’s strengths.

The fund-raiser attracted a total of 115,000 donors and 323,000 gifts and pledges. More than 61,000 were first-time donors. UConn ranks 7th nationally in the percentage of alumni who give to their alma mater.

About one-fifth of the money - $92.5 million - is earmarked for athletics (including $14 million for athletic scholarships).

UConn givers have been far from bashful in ponying up money for improving and expanding its campus. The recent $471 in giving is over and above the $2.3 billion that has already been invested to transform UConn’s physical footprint in the rolling hills of eastern Connecticut.

UConn might not be a Michigan or an Ohio State, but it has evolved tremendously from the sleepy regional university that it used to be not more than a quarter century ago.

However, no one can agree on how much athletics proficiency has contributed to this evolution. Some (avid UConn fans) say that the school’s noteworthy basketball success has been the catalyst for all the good that has unfolded. Others (objective analysts, sports economists, academic professionals) have maintained that remarkable attention and investment--by the state of Connecticut and generous alumni—have been the reasons for UConn’s amazing transformation.

No doubt, the truth likely lies somewhere in between.


(this 320 word article—with attendant commentary--was culled from a 577 word article in the Hartford Courant of 8-12-04)