CU officials on a roll with fundraising

The school’s six-month tally of $54 million is on pace to break a 2000 donation record of $84.9 million.

By John Ingold

Denver Post Staff Writer

DenverPost.com

University of Colorado fundraisers have rolled up more than $54 million worth of donations in the last six months and are on pace to set a record for charitable giving to the university.

The total is more than a 200 percent increase over fundraising totals for the same period last year and is only slightly less than the $59.8 million raised in all of fiscal 2006.

If fundraising continues at the current pace, it will smash the record of $84.9 million given in fiscal 2000.

CU president Hank Brown said the increase in giving is a sign that donor confidence in CU has returned after a series of scandals and controversies that marred the institution’s image.

“People respond to great ideas and great concepts,” Brown said. “It’s not simply a desire to rid themselves of their funds. It’s a sense that they’re doing something that is worth accomplishing.”

Wayne Hutchens, president of the CU Foundation, which handles much of the fundraising for CU, said the foundation has hired more fundraisers to push for donations. But he credited changes in leadership at CU for the increase in donations.

“We’re never going to be any better than our university, in terms of our success,” he said. “… So I think what you are seeing is a confidence in the institution and its leadership.”

Donations are crucial to the CU system, which has seen sagging state higher-education funding in recent years, Brown said.

Because of the state-funding shortfalls, Brown said, the university isn’t able to construct new buildings at any of its campuses without private dollars. One donation in particular, a $25 million gift from the Anschutz Foundation, allowed CU to finish the buildings at the new Fitzsimons medical campus.

Other major donations will go toward building the pharmacy school on the Fitzsimons campus, expanding and renovating the business school in Boulder, and toward endowing academic and research programs.

“Most of us who love CU have had positive undergraduate or graduate experiences there. That’s been my case,” said Richard Engebretson, a retired businessman, who – along with his wife, Jean – has pledged $1 million to renovate the business school. “I feel like I owe CU for much of what I turned out to be.”

Staff writer John Ingold can be reached at 720-929-0898 or jingold@denverpost.com.