Fundraising emerged as a new, hot topic at a recent annual meeting of community college leaders.
Executives of the Community College of Philadelphia and Arizona's Maricopa Community Colleges told attendees at the American Association of Community Colleges meeting that their colleges should embrace the funding tactics and characteristics of private institutions if they hope to succeed in their missions, according to reports in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.
Stephen Curtis and Rufus Glasper, leaders of the respective institutions, said that community colleges need to develop new streams of revenue to help replace state and local dollars that many predict will not return to pre-recession levels. Curtis and Glasper proposed introducing tactics relatively new to community colleges, such as starting major fundraising campaigns, but also ramping up those tactics at which these institutions already excel, such as engaging in public-private partnerships with local businesses.
Many presidents who attended the meeting agreed that new funding mechanisms must be found to advance their institutions. In addition to identifying revenue streams to fuel new programs and growth, schools in cash-strapped states are looking for ways to offset cuts and minimize tuition increases.
"I do believe that public funding will be limited and that we'll require supplemental support to carry out our needs," said Quintin B. Bullock, president of Schenectady County Community College in New York. "But I'm not at that level of thinking that the state will not provide support. The amount of support [it offers] may become limited, but I don't think it's going to disappear."
Bullock was one of two dozen campus executives who participated in a day-long preconference session on fundraising presented by Marsha Ray, vice president for Institutional Advancement at the Community College of Philadelphia, and Paul Heaton, director of CASE's Center for Community College Advancement.
In this environment of limited government support, Bullock acknowledged that the role of the community college president is changing with regard to fundraising.
"I'm learning as I go," Bullock said. "That's why I participate in professional development, hear best practices and learn from fundraising professionals. I encourage any aspiring president to engage in any activity that will provide training to be an effective fundraiser."
Todd R. Holcomb, president of Western Nebraska Community College, agreed, calling it "a must" that any individual with ambitions of becoming a community college president "absolutely needs a base of knowledge in fundraising and be committed to it." He estimated that between 20 to 25 percent of his job as a president is devoted to institutional fundraising.
Like Bullock, Holcomb said he is committed to fundraising—not because of any concern about potential dips in state support for operations—but rather because private funds can help improve upon areas of excellence at his college. He's already achieved some level of success. His institution, which serves a district covering 17,000 square miles and 2,100 students, has a $2.9 million endowment and garners about $435,000 a year in donations.
"I think rural people see the connection between economic development and our [community college] district," Holcomb said. "They understand they need to continue to give back and invest in the college."
This article is from the May 2012 issue of the Community College Advancement News.