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Paul Lanning

Paul LanningPaul Lanning is president and chief executive officer of the Foundation for California Community Colleges, which supports the state's 109 community colleges. Before joining the 10-year-old foundation in August 2007, Lanning worked at the University of the Pacific in various advancement positions, including assistant vice president for university advancement. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California, San Diego, a master's degree at the University of Massachusetts, and a doctorate in educational administration and leadership from the University of the Pacific. He can be reached at

The foundation is active in many different areas, including grant management and system-wide purchasing networks that deliver cost savings to individual colleges. What are some of your foundation's other interest areas and what ties them all together?

At the heart of every FCCC program is our mission, which is to benefit, support and enhance the missions of California community colleges. Through dozens of programs and services, FCCC collaborates closely with the California Community Colleges, the community college system office, private foundations, state and local agencies, and interested parties. These programs directly benefit the students, and they help increase the resources and efficiency of the entire system.

Our programs focus on several areas, including:

  • Healthcare education to increase the number and quality of much-needed healthcare professionals in California
  • Workforce development training and learning for at-risk youth, including Youth Empowerment Strategies for Success, the Early College High School Initiative, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, as well as others
  • Job training and career development for community college students through our Public Service Career Pathway program

What are some of your new directions and programs?

This is an exciting time for California community colleges because we are poised for significant and positive changes in the near future. One of the changes we're moving toward is system-wide philanthropy and support. Along those lines, we plan to launch a $100 million endowed scholarship campaign this spring, which would be the largest of its kind in community college history.

Such a campaign would provide much-needed support and resources to individual colleges throughout California. The difference between this initiative and a capital campaign at a traditional four-year university is that we are coordinating with 109 colleges in our system. We're not just raising funds ourselves, but we're helping member colleges raise funds to benefit and support the 2.6 million students currently enrolled in California community colleges.

We're in discussions right now with a significant private donor who may be providing a lead gift. If that happens, then we will enter a public phase.

This is a huge change for us. Generally speaking, community colleges have never been at the philanthropy table before. Their support has generally consisted of state funding, and their focus, therefore, has been on operating academic and job training programs based solely on that state support.

As we look at our current state budget challenges and impending cuts, it's increasingly important that community colleges start to rely on private support in addition to public funds.

To help our community colleges identify and develop alumni as potential donors, we are also launching the California Community College Alumni Network this spring. This collaborative initiative by FCCC and the Network of California Community College Foundations will offer our colleges a set of marketing and communication tools that will enable streamlined, effective outreach to alumni.

In addition, we will launch a printed alumni magazine for the first time. Our first issue will be produced this September and has a potential circulation of 350,000 to 500,000 alumni. The ability to reach that many people with one publication for the first time will be very exciting.

How can advancement programming better reflect the needs of community colleges?

One of the challenges facing community colleges in California and nationally is how to benefit from more of the programs CASE offers. Cost and travel distance to conferences are an issue, and we're working right now with CASE and other organizations to help develop more advancement programming.

We are in the midst of planning for a statewide symposium on community college advancement, scheduled for Oct. 15-17, in San Diego. We feel there is tremendous untapped potential for raising private dollars for community colleges, and the symposium is just one way that we can work with colleges on this effort. Last year, about $28 billion was donated nationwide to higher education, but only 2 percent of the total was earmarked for community colleges, which educate nearly half of America's undergraduates. We see a lot of potential for boosting that number. Community colleges should no longer be left out in the cold when it comes to philanthropy.

This article is from the BriefCASE 2008 issue.

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