CMU to initiate fundraising campaign

by Michael R. Fitzgerald


Carnegie Mellon is scouring the earth for individuals willing to match the generosity of its namesakes. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported on December 26, that the University has undertaken an ambitious, yet-to-be-named global fundraising campaign. Vice-President of University Advancement Robbee Kosak confirmed these reports, claiming that the money is being raised, primarily from alumni, in an attempt to improve financial aid, increase research funding, and provide appropriate facilities for faculty and students.

As of December 25, Carnegie Mellon had received 32 gifts of more than $1 million and raised $258 million over the course of about three years of preliminary fund-hunting, according to Kosak.

Concluding in 1999, the last campaign effort raised $410 million, University Provost Mark Kamlet told The Tartan.

According to Kamlet, the current effort, as well as the University of Pittsburgh’s $1 billion “Discover a World of Possibilities” capital campaign, should have a significant impact on the city of Pittsburgh.

“It will enhance Pittsburgh’s ability to be a magnet for knowledge workers,” said Kamlet. “That is going to have to be a key part of the Pittsburgh region’s growth as we look to the future.”

The University is not pre-pared to announce a final goal for the campaign at a time when 24 colleges and universities in the U.S. have fundraising goals of at least $1 billion. The University will probably wait until mid-2008 to announce a figure and a theme for the campaign, according to Kamlet.

According to Kosak, the Tribune-Review incorrectly reported that University officials are considering a goal of roughly $1 billion. “You never want to announce a final goal until you are at least 50 percent of the way to that goal,” said Kosak.

Some key contributions thus far include the David and Marlene Tepper gift of $55 million to support the business school, and the Gates Foundation gift of the Gates Center for Computer Science.

Current contributions also include funding for the campus-based General Motors Collaborative Research Lab from General Motors, and Intel’s funding of the Intel Research Pittsburgh lab that opened in 2002.

While these gifts are geared toward the University’s science programs, Kosak added, “We are being equally aggressive about raising money for the arts and humanities.”

She cited a Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities that has been offered to the University. The grant is pending, as it will only be awarded if the school raises significantly more money for the humanities from private sources.

Overall, the University appears to have been paying closer attention to marketing and media relations, alumni relations, and fundraising. Cohon and the Board of Trustees recently invested the increased money in Carnegie Mellon’s Advancement Organization.

Kamlet and Kosak are also looking for an increased role from alumni and corporations in Asia.

“We are quickly establishing close relationships with various multinational science and technology company offices in China,” Kosak said.

Asia has become a primary international target for alumni relations; Bryan Tamburro, head of international development, told the Tribune-Review in a December 26 article that most of Carnegie Mellon’s international alumni are from Asia.

In some cases, though, these international efforts can be problematic, as Kosak noted, “Most other countries’ tax laws have not provided the tax incentives that the U.S. has for giving.”