As uncertainty surrounding Chancellor Biddy Martin’s
proposed Badger Partnership continues to grow, members of the university’s administration and
University of Wisconsin Foundation leadership have already begun making
provisions to use many of the university’s proposed flexibilities to increase
fundraising earnings for UW.
With tuition hikes guaranteed, private support donated from alumni and
other friends of the university has the potential to award students with thousands of
dollars of scholarship money, helping to offset the rising cost of attending UW while
easing their student loan and debt burdens.
According to Michael Knetter, head of the UW Foundation, the Badger
Partnership could easily spur an increase in gifts to the university, as alumni will
have more freedom to direct their donations to nearly any area of campus they want.
“The Badger Partnership is exciting for a lot of donors,” Knetter said. “The
principles that the chancellor has articulated would make private dollars go further
by reducing regulatory red tape.”
Although the foundation has not yet launched an official fundraising
campaign to coincide with the Badger Partnership, Knetter said the campaign would
most likely center on the university’s human resources – namely students,
professors and other faculty members.
Knetter also added that having UW alumni members serve on the proposed
leadership board, a key part of the Badger Partnership proposal, would ensure that
former students are aware of how important their donations are to the school, thus
potentially encouraging further gifts from alumni.
Darrell Bazzell, Vice Chancellor for Administration, echoed similar
sentiments, saying that while there will be tuition increases at the university, the
administration is working to ensure that there are funds available for students who
need them, rendering the hikes “harmless” for those families who need financial
assistance the most.
The ideas articulated by both the UW Foundation and the university
administration fall in line with the fundraising plans and agendas used by other
public, flagship universities that have gained greater autonomy from state
governments. Like UW would under the proposal, these schools use fundraising dollars from alumni to
help fund a variety of areas on their campuses.
At the University of Michigan, for example, in 2010, private donations and
revenue gifts made up 12 percent of the university’s budget and were used for a
variety of priorities, ranging from scholarships to new professorships. Larger
donations were also directed towards specific building projects on the Ann Arbor
Similarly, the University of Oregon, which is currently pursuing a plan in its
state legislature that would phase out state funding over the next 30 years, plans to encourage alumni donations by doubling them. Oregon’s state government has promised to match an
endowment dollar for dollar, which would go towards long-term, as well as current,
projects on the campus.
Despite this, however, UW currently receives more private and alumni
support than either Oregon or Michigan. Gifts to the university represent nearly 20
percent of UW’s budget, a number that will likely need to increase as tuition rates
increase and the need for more student financial aid increases as well.