Top administrators and notable donors filled the National Constitution Center Friday night to celebrate the public phase of Temple’s $350 million capital drive, which had existed in its private phase for five years.
The campaign, which is slated for completion in 2009, is the largest fundraising effort in the school’s history. It is Temple’s first comprehensive effort to reach out to alumni and create a solid third stream of funding separate from tuition and state money.
Since its quiet launch in July 2002, the campaign has raised $253 million. The money has made it possible for such landmark developments as Alter Hall and the new Tyler School of Art, as well as numerous endowed professorships and research grants.
The success of the campaign owes itself to the university’s immense efforts to improve its formerly distant rapport with alumni. Most graduates were educated during Temple’s days as a commuter school, and the university’s efforts to keep in touch with them were often lackluster.
“When you think about developing the culture of philanthropy and the difficulty of changing a culture of indifference to giving, you realize what a tremendous challenge it is,” President Ann Weaver Hart said in an interview with The Temple News at the event.
A moment later, while Hart sat on the veranda of the Constitution Center, an alumnus approached her. He said how highly he values his Temple education and how impressed he is with the evolution of the university.
“My only regret,” he said, “is that I didn’t go when it was all happening.”
“You’re part of Temple still,” Hart replied.
Enthusiastically, he agreed. “I am! I am!”
That sort of interaction between university and alumnus embodies the exhaustive outreach strategy that campaign organizers have adopted to cure alumni apathy. Videos shown at the event portrayed a thriving “new” Temple that that the university hopes alumni will want to be a part of.
To stay connected with alumni, the Temple University Alumni Association now throws nationwide events and special reunions for alumni of organizations like WRTI and The Temple News. Furthermore, colleges created their own publications and boards of trustees.
Last month, Temple launched its $2.5 million ‘T’ Means More advertising campaign that focuses on the qualities of alumni.
The strategy has been executed so well that Hart and the Board of Trustees agreed in May to raise the initial $300 million target to its current goal.
It’s an unprecedented effort by the university. And for many involved, it’s long overdue.
The University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University – two of Temple’s oft-compared state-related peers – started alumni outreach decades ago, said Stuart P. Sullivan, vice president of institutional advancement. Their endowments are both well over $1 billion dollars, and Temple’s endowment, while growing more than in it has the past, is still only $237 million.
“If you want to look at a snapshot of why we’re doing this,” Sullivan said, “that’s the snapshot.”
“Temple realized they were lagging behind other universities,” said Brenda Malinics, director of development at the School of Pharmacy. “So many grads in Philadelphia were Temple grads and they were giving their money elsewhere because Temple was never cultivating that relationship and stewarding people.”
Temple’s alumni donation rate has started to catch up. The percentage of alumni who donate increased from eight percent in 1999 to 14 percent today, in contrast to 16 percent at Penn State and 19 percent at Pitt, respectively, Sullivan said.
The capital drive is another vestige of former Temple president David Adamany’s development-focused tenure. During his time here, the Board of Trustees and Office of Institutional Advancement decided that funding separate from the state and not reliant on tuition increases was needed for the university to realize its ambitions of expansion and a stronger endowment.
At least 33 percent of the money raised has gone to the endowment, which has increased by $72 million from the start of the campaign. It grew by $32 million last year alone – the year Hart took office – according to numbers that have not been officially audited.
The Board of Trustees also diversified the endowment’s asset allocation to decrease its volatility, which will take effect this year. Previously, half of the endowment was invested in equity and the other half in U.S. Treasury bonds. The new allocation will be: 40 percent domestic equities, 40 percent treasury bonds and 20 percent international equities.
“This is especially important to our donors who tend to be sophisticated investors and expect us to be good stewards of their gifts,” said Temple’s Chief Financial Officer Anthony Wagner.
Twenty-three percent of the money raised has gone to five main capital projects: Alter Hall, the Health Sciences building, the Tyler School of Art, the Ambler Learning Center and the renovation of the Baptist Temple. Eighteen percent is being used to fund research, and the rest is unspecified.
The public phase comes after five years of organizing campaign leadership and solidifying a few large-scale gifts – such as $15 million donated by Denis and Gisela Alter – that are used as examples for future donors to follow, Sullivan said.
“It allows you to go public with your campaign with that momentum behind you that says, ‘Look how far we’ve come and we only have this far to go. We need everybody to help us get over this to reach this goal,'” he said.
The campaign is now “focused,” Hart said.
“You put your reputation on the line and you announce what you intend to do to reach that goal,” Hart said. “If you announce in public that you’re going to do something, you’re in a very different position.”
Andrew Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.