- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2002

NORFOLK (AP) Squeezed by multimillion-dollar state budget cuts, Virginia's colleges and universities are lobbying harder for financial help from alumni, parents, corporations, foundations and other private sources.
The University of Virginia plans a $3 billion fund drive starting in early 2004, and Old Dominion University is in the first lap of its $75 million campaign. Norfolk State and Tidewater Community College plan pushes with more modest goals.
A greater reliance on private money can cushion colleges from the ups and downs of state funding, and install fiscal restraint, academics say. However, schools find it harder to attract money for some objectives than for others.
Larry Hincker, a spokesman for Virginia Tech recalled a fund drive a decade ago that included money for a $1 million repair of the roof on Cassell Coliseum.
"Our major benefactors came back to us and said: 'Are you crazy? This is a facility for the state of Virginia. Don't expect your donors to repair your roof,'" Mr. Hincker said. "But the donors stepped up to the plate when [football coach] Frank Beamer wanted to develop a weight-training facility and when we wanted to build a high-tech advanced communications center."
Still, some people fear the trend could widen the gap between a school such as the University of Virginia that relies on an endowment of $1.7 billion and Tidewater Community College, which has an endowment less than $500,000.
David W. Breneman, a researcher in college financing who is dean of UVa.'s Curry School of Education, thinks the university's academic prestige will also help it raise money.
"If it's hard to get into and you get in, you buy into that and you want to see that sustained," he said. "As you get into the more regional institutions, particularly if you have commuter or part-time students, they're less selective. I just don't think those schools have the same kind of emotional impact on their alumni."
Marie V. McDemmond, president of Norfolk State University, hopes to start a campaign within a year to raise about $100 million. And she knows her constraints: 87 percent of the students are on financial aid.
Recalling the time her former school, Florida Atlantic University, received a $10 million check from a donor, she said, "That's not the kind of gift we can get at Norfolk State right now. Plus, that gift was 10 years in the making."
Tidewater Community College is also looking to pump up donations, President Deborah M. DiCroce said.
"We should never, ever let the state off the hook in terms of its obligation to support its community-college system," she said. "But that said, we'd be fools to not look at a means for supplementing what the state does."

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