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Creating a Culture of Giving

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  Creating a Culture of Giving

Campaign succeeds through generosity of over 50,000 alumni

By Mary Cochrane

  ub bull
When Ashok Kaveeshwar, Ph.D. ’69—chair of the College of Arts and Sciences campaign committee and chief operating officer for Orange Technologies in Gaithersburg, Maryland—speaks about the success of The Campaign for UB: Generation to Generation, he’s not just referring to dollars and cents.

“While the success of The Campaign for UB has been measured most often in dollars raised,” he says, “I see another way it has succeeded. The campaign, through its very nature, reaches out to alumni and brings their attention to the fact that the university is in a much different funding situation than it was when they graduated.”

This outreach, he adds, “will serve as a key building block in creating the tradition of alumni connection and support that has been largely missing in the past.”

And it is that tradition, according to Kaveeshwar, that will sustain UB in the future because it includes and informs the alumni, reminding generations of graduates of the university’s history while, at the same time, seeking their opinions in its plans for the future.

“This is not a trivial thing,” continues Kaveeshwar, who is also chair of the dean’s advisory council in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Other universities have a long tradition of alumni connection, and, as a result, they have large endowments, which give them a competitive advantage.”

The Campaign for UB: Generation to Generation has indeed helped to fortify the university’s competitive advantage.

As early as July 17, at a news conference to announce a $53.5 million gift of software to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences—the largest gift to the campaign and the largest gift in university history—UB President William R. Greiner and UB Council Chair Jeremy Jacobs announced that The Campaign for UB—the largest campaign in university history—had raised $281.8 million, or close to $32 million more than its $250 million goal.

In the weeks leading up to a university community party on September 19 to celebrate the end of the campaign, figures show the following about The Campaign for UB:

  • Over 79,000 donors contributed to the drive.
  • UB alumni represented the largest group of donors, with 51,174, or 65 percent, of all gifts. Their gifts totaled nearly $97.7 million.
  • Nearly 16,000 recent UB grads (1990–2003) gave to the campaign.

The percentage of alumni donors compares favorably with two major public universities also wrapping up campaigns, a priority of President Greiner from the beginning of the campaign. The University of Minnesota recently concluded its Campaign Minnesota with 39 percent alumni participation. Alumni from Penn State contributed 39.7 percent of funds raised in the school’s Grand Destiny campaign.

A much different place

On October 20, 2000, the public kickoff date for The Campaign for UB, President Greiner spoke of the importance of expanding private support for UB.

  giving photo
  From left: Honorary Campaign Chair Jeremy M. Jacobs, SUNY Chancellor Robert L. King and UB President William R. Greiner herald the opening of The Campaign for UB on October 20, 2000.

But that was October 2000, and the world was a much different place.

The volatile market was in an upswing. The new “reality-TV” series Survivor had just been declared a ratings success. And many Americans looked forward to November 7, Election Day, as the close of the presidential campaign between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

Less than a year later, in the months after the planes hit the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, scores of free-falling stock values and a host of corporate scandals had all but destroyed consumer confidence.

By 2002, according to the Council for Aid to Education, private support to U.S. colleges and universities was declining for the first time in more than 15 years.

The Campaign for UB managed to rise above this decline, succeeding on several levels. At its kickoff, the campaign was the largest drive ever conducted by a public university in New York and New England. And its $250 million goal was UB’s highest ever, nearly five times the goal of the previous Pathways to Greatness campaign, which concluded by raising $56.3 million.

A strong connection

Jeremy M. Jacobs ’60, honorary chair of The Campaign for UB: Generation to Generation, cites the exceptional turnout of alumni donors as a key factor in the drive’s positive results.

“The campaign was incredibly successful, as alumni and friends from around the community and the world stepped forward to pledge their commitment to UB,” Jacobs says. “Those alumni and friends who participated in the campaign feel a strong connection to UB’s storied history, and I am confident, based on the tremendous success of the campaign, that they are equally dedicated to being part of its future.”

The phrase “alumni driven” had special meaning during the entire campaign. Of the 30 original campaign leaders—honorary chairs, cochairs, chairs of schools, units and programs—24 were UB alumni. Many of these individuals gave early gifts to jump-start the drive, and then recruited their fellow alumni to maintain the momentum.

Several gifts were committed to change the physical face of UB.

A $500,000 gift from J. Grant Hauber, B.S. ’48, and his wife, Marcia Hauber, launched the campaign for a School of Management building project. The Alfiero Center will be named in honor of a $2 million gift from Jeanne and Sal H. Alfiero, and its three-story atrium will be named for the Haubers.

Hauber says he had the idea to contribute to a new School of Management facility while touring the Jacobs Management Center and listening to plans to expand that facility by renovating basement classrooms.

“I looked around and I saw a number of students sitting on the floor in the halls, and I said, ‘This isn’t going to work. What you need is to give these students a feeling of openness. They’ve got to have light.’”

Perry’s Ice Cream and its president and CEO, Robert Denning, E.M.B.A. ’00, also contributed to the Alfiero Center. In honor of the company’s gift, the center’s entry plaza will be named Perry’s Ice Cream Plaza. Denning, who earned his Executive M.B.A. from the university the same year he took charge of the 85-year-old family-owned business, also gives back to UB in another fashion: jobs. Perry’s employs more than a dozen UB alumni, including eight M.B.A.s serving as managers.

As a first-year law student, Fran Letro, J.D. ’79, saw Buffalo’s best trial lawyers in action at the county courthouse across from the old UB Law School on West Eagle Street. His $1 million gift to his alma mater during The Campaign for UB makes it possible for new generations of UB law students to experience the “magic” of observing live legal proceedings—by simply walking down the hall from their classes in O’Brian Hall to hear cases presented in the trend-setting, campus-based Francis M. Letro Courtroom.

Four years a true value

Student scholarships were high on the list of priorities for other alumni donors, including Murray S. Rosenthal, D.D.S. ’63, who created the Rosenthal Family Fund with a $510,000 gift to help financially needy students. Chair of the School of Dental Medicine’s campaign committee, Rosenthal based his legacy for the future on recognition of past generations served by UB, including his brother, Dean A. Rosenthal, D.D.S. ’76 & B.A. ’72, and their father, Garson G. Rosenthal, D.D.S. ’34 & B.S. ’33.

Patricia H. Garman, M.S. ’79, and her husband, Richard Garman, pledged $500,000 each to enrich two UB schools. Patricia Garman created the Patricia H. Garman Behavioral Health Nursing Endowment Fund to assist students and faculty members in the area of behavioral health in the School of Nursing. Richard Garman, former president and CEO of Buffalo Crushed Stone, Inc., has designated his pledge for scholarships for civil engineering students in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Beginning in 2004, students from Little Valley, New York, can earn a four-year scholarship to UB, thanks to the generosity of Terese E. Kelly, who received a bachelor of arts degree from UB in 1968 and a master’s degree in 1973.

“My grandmother graduated from Little Valley High, Class of 1904,” Kelly says. “My father was a 1930 graduate and I have two aunts and two sisters who are graduates. Education was very important in my family, so, most of all, this is a way to honor the Kellys who came before.”

A retired librarian and former Latin teacher at the School of Arts in Rochester, Kelly worked with University Advancement’s Office of Planned Giving to provide for the scholarship through a donation of stock to UB.

“I would tell other alumni that their own educations were underwritten by taxpayers and their four years were a bargain,” Kelly says. “I think people who take should give back if they can. It’s a great way to honor someone or something and see your donation working during your lifetime.”

Returning our obligation

Several alumni went beyond words to encourage gifts to The Campaign for UB for university programs and research.

Former New York Islanders CEO Stephen Walsh, B.A. ’66, and his wife, Janet B. Walsh, are two donors who led by example, pledging generously to the UB Division of Athletics for the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

Walsh made the gift, and agreed to serve as chair of the athletics campaign committee, after a meeting with Bob Arkeilpane, then director of athletics, who “reminded me of four very important years at Buffalo, years that moved me into a different world—and sports were a very special part of those years.”

Ronald F. Garvey, M.D. ’53, agrees, saying that he chaired the campaign committee for the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences “as a way of returning our obligation as a family to UB.” Garvey, his father and his brother all attended UB medical school on scholarships.

One person who values student scholarships, but not the publicity that often accompanies large donations, is the anonymous donor to The Campaign for UB whose initial gift in 1995 created UB’s Distinguished Honors Scholars Program. Subsequent gifts by this person—$7.2 million in all—help sustain the program that provides four years of full tuition, room and board, and fees for 15 to 20 incoming freshmen.

Taxi driver-turned-financier Leslie A. Brun, B.S. ’74, a UB Foundation board member, didn’t stop at giving his own $1 million donation to the School of Social Work, but picked up some fellow alumni as passengers along the way. He challenged the school’s alumni as a group to match his gift, and they responded successfully, providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in support.

A supportive faculty

Faculty donors represent another strong trend in giving to The Campaign for UB.

Ibrahim Jammal, professor emeritus in the UB School of Architecture and Planning, and his wife, Viviane Jammal, established a fellowship grant program that provides thousands of dollars each year for student research assistantships, research proposals, scholarly visits and conferences for students. Jammal, who taught at UB for 30 years, is founder of the school’s Department of Planning.

Gifts totaling $308,280 from UB Professor Emeritus J. Warren Perry of the School of Public Health and Health Professions established two endowed funds, one for scholarships and the other for a lecture series. Perry Scholars are the most recent beneficiaries of this former dean, who has also supported athletics and the arts at the university.

Students in the Graduate School of Education benefited from an honored professor who returned a favor. A donor to UB, grateful for a communications system developed by UB Professor Emeritus S. David Farr, honored him by creating an endowment fund in his name. Farr expanded the S. David Farr Scholarship Fund with his own contributions, delighted that he could “extend” his mentoring after retirement through the support for graduate students.

Significant effort

The Campaign for UB succeeded in raising the bar for private giving in university schools, athletics, the UB libraries and WBFO 88.7 FM, the university’s National Public Radio affiliate.

The School of Informatics, created by merging the former School of Library Science and Information Studies with the Department of Communication, received an initial boost from the AT&T Foundation. Two grants funded the school’s master of arts curriculum in informatics, as well as supporting the creation of an instructional technology laboratory complex for research in several areas. In May, AT&T gave again—this time in support of developing a degree in informatics for undergraduates.

Veridian Corp., the company created from the merger of Veda and Arvin/Calspan, donated a gift-in-kind that bookmarks a place in aeronautical history for the University Libraries. The private collection made public with this gift includes thousands of reports, books, trade journals, notes and papers documenting regional aeronautical engineering activities from the 1940s to the present.

All of Western New York benefited from an endowment fund established for WBFO. The late Esther and Don Davis, who attended UB in the 1930s, supported the Mini Medical School, the Distinguished Speakers Series and WBFO. The station used the donations for improvements in production and broadcast technology.

Anthony Colucci III, chair of the WBFO campaign committee, says alumni, along with UB staff, faculty and students, are an important part of the station’s “very mature annual giving effort,” which reaches well beyond campus.

“The university should continue with the significant effort it has initiated with The Campaign for UB,” Colucci says. “To excel, UB must have the support of its alums and the community.”

Keep plugging away

Several alumni donors believe that UB cannot and will not miss the opportunity presented by the end of the campaign for further cultivating the strong connection to alumni.

Bruce Moden, B.S. ’57, chair of the campaign committee for the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, remembers the misperception that occurred shortly after the university joined the State University of New York (SUNY) system in 1962. “There was a feeling that, as a state school, UB didn’t need private support,” Moden says. “A lot of people got the idea that ‘I pay my taxes, so I don’t need to give more.’”

Alumni relations and alumni donations are more critical than ever to bolstering UB as a world-renowned research and academic institution. Long gone are the days when public universities thrive without private support, Moden says. “Yes, the state has provided funding, but those dollars have not increased. They still give, but the majority of the university’s money comes from tuition and private sources,” he says. Moden is optimistic that the campaign has rekindled the university’s relationship with its alumni, reminding them of the good that will come of their gifts to UB.

DeWitt C. Niles ’62, a graduate of the School of Pharmacy and a retired anesthesiologist, gave out of gratitude to UB. “I think I owe a lot of my success to UB. I just basically appreciate all that UB did for me,” Niles says.

He offers words of encouragement on how best to keep the support coming. “In this day and time, that’s tough,” Niles says. “I’d say to UB, ‘You have to keep plugging away—just keep up a relationship and eventually, as times get better, the money will come in.’”

Mary Cochrane is an editor and writer for the Division of University Advancement.

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