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MnSCU hopes that vigorous fund-raising will help budget

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- For the first time, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system plans to hire someone to do fund-raising for the entire system.

MnSCU is looking for more private support in a time of sagging state funding. It's searching for a director for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation to begin work next year.

Eventually, Chancellor James McCormick is expected to spend 20 to 25 percent of his time on fund-raising. The foundation has been around since the 1960s, raising money mostly for scholarships, but has not been very active in recent years and did not have its own separate staff.

The $191.5 million, two-year funding cut that MnSCU took at the state Legislature this year spurred new interest in reviving the group.

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"We are seeing this as an opportunity for colleges and universities to do things we otherwise wouldn't be able to do," said Linda Kohl, MnSCU's associate vice chancellor for public affairs. "It is unusual for systems to have major fund-raising efforts. The challenge is to figure out how to do it without competing with individual schools."

McCormick met with school presidents to figure out how the system could raise money without stepping on college toes. The emphasis at the foundation is to raise money for things that tuition and state funds don't pay for. For example, raising scholarship dollars to help part-time students who do not qualify for state aid might be one focus, Kohl said.

"In the past, we've had donors who were interested in giving to technical colleges as a group," she said. "We also think there are possibly corporations and national foundations that might be interested."

Until now, the two system employees who spent part of their time with the foundation focused on training people at individual campuses on how to fundraise with alumni groups. The system foundation has about $400,000 in assets, mostly scholarship money. The group's goal is to raise $3 million to $5 million within five years.

"It takes a lot of work; you can't just ask people for money the first time you meet them," Kohl said.

Staffing for the foundation would be completed by 2005-2006, with a budget of about $394,000 in that year.

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