Planning has begun for a comprehensive fundraising campaign that will redefine the roles of school deans and further increase the University’s fundraising efforts, President Steven Knapp said in an interview on Friday.
Knapp and other University officials are launching a fundraising campaign to raise a “significant amount” of money, Knapp said, to fund student aid, academics and capital projects. The deans of the respective schools at GW have been told they will spend 40 to 50 percent of their time on fundraising, a change to their previous, mainly academic, roles. While deans have always fundraised, the campaign will increase their time commitments.
Russell Ramsey, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, said Knapp came to GW with the idea of making the deans more active in fundraising, an organizational trademark of Johns Hopkins, Knapp’s former university and a formidable fundraising powerhouse.
“President’s Knapp’s goal is for all deans to have a very important fundraising agenda,” Ramsey said.
Traditionally, deans have not headed fundraising efforts for their schools, instead relying on the University and the development offices at-large and in each school to fundraise. At Johns Hopkins, the academic deans are responsible for funding their own programs and each school was practically autonomous, Knapp said.
“Each of the schools has to take care of itself. It doesn’t get resources from the University,” Knapp said of Johns Hopkins. “Everything there is much more school-by-school and much less for the University as a whole.”
While about half of the fundraising from Johns Hopkins comes from their medical center, Knapp said John Hopkins’ fundraising structure forces their deans to become “more entrepreneurial.”
The Johns Hopkins model does present disadvantages with interdisciplinary work – which integrates knowledge and modes of thinking from two or more disciplines like physics and biology – but Knapp said he is looking to establish a “balance” at GW, fusing Johns Hopkins’s dean-centric model with a “fluidity” in interdisciplinary work.
Johns Hopkins announced in January that over an eight-and-a-half year fundraising effort, they raised $3.7 billion.
The name of the campaign and the amount the University hopes to raise have not been decided, but the academic deans were told by Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Lehman to ready themselves to spend 40 to 50 percent of their time fundraising, multiple deans said. This includes meetings with prospective donors, traveling to alumni events in the U.S. and abroad and stirring up interest in GW.
“The deans are really critical to this process because there is only so much an individual president can do,” Knapp said. “It really takes all of the schools because they’ve all got the programs people care about. If the deans are not involved, you’re not going to have the success we are looking for.”
Historically called capital campaigns, the upcoming efforts would be more comprehensive, Knapp said, as he is looking to fund academics, student aid and capital projects.
“It involves some capital. We do want to increase the endowment and we do have some things we want to build and we do have some programs we want to support,” Knapp said. “It’s all those together that make up the campaign, and that’s why we call it comprehensive.”
A concrete timeline has not been established, Knapp said, because the details for the campaign have not been finalized. In large fundraising campaigns, schools often have a quiet stage where emissaries for the university meet with prospective donors to gauge opinions and support levels. The quiet phase also allows a university to raise a significant portion of the goal before publicly announcing the campaign. Knapp said the quiet phase could start as early as this summer and would probably last one year. He imagines the entire campaign would last “six or seven years.”
“You’re trying to create a marriage between what donors are passionate about and what the institution needs,” Knapp said. “People are not going to give because you say ‘the institution needs this.’ People are going to give because you say ‘if we have these resources, here is something exciting and important we can do.’ “
Deans interviewed by The Hatchet said they are excited to help raise the capital that will help improve their respective schools and added they expected the launch of a new fundraising effort with the hiring of a new president who has a fundraising background.
Dean of the School of Business Susan Phillips said this new campaign would not affect the new School of Business dean – Phillips is stepping down from her position June 30 – as greatly at it might affect other deans, because the business school has been fundraising for Duques Hall for more than a decade.
“For me, fundraising is part of my job as the School of Business dean,” Phillips said. “One of my jobs is to open doors for students and faculty through fundraising.”
In preparation for the deans taking a heightened responsibility in fundraising, School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean David Dolling said he has been working to create new positions in his school that will alleviate some of his academic responsibilities so he can focus on fundraising.
Dean Peg Barratt said she previously spent about 25 percent of her time fundraising but she knew when hired for the dean position that fundraising would be a central part of her job.
“I came here to do this,” Barratt said. “It is part of my commitment to grow the Columbian College. It is my dream to make this a better place, and to that [end] we need the additional resources this campaign will bring in.”
This article appeared in the December 7, 2009 issue of the Hatchet.