Tennessee Tech records record-breaking fund raising year

Tennessee Tech University officials received more than $4.65 million in private donations for the 1999-2000 year, an all-time high for the public university that continues to see its state appropriations dwindle.

Most of the $4.65 million will go toward student scholarships. Some of the money will also be used in specific colleges for either additional scholarships or to purchase and update necessary equipment and learning resources.

"This is the largest amount ever raised by Tennessee Tech University," said Paul Isbell, vice president for University Advancement. "Our goal was to raise a little more than $3 million, so we beat our goal by about $1.6 million."

For the 1998-1999 year, TTU raised only $2.6 million. "We've come a long way," Isbell said.

The $4.65 million figure includes only gifts received during the fiscal year. Pledges for future gifts are not included in this number, Isbell added.

Especially noteworthy for the 1999-2000 year is that more alumni contributed to TTU during the university's Annual Fund Giving campaign than last year which, said Isbell, signifies a better understanding by graduates of the dire budget situation all public universities are facing in Tennessee.

"This year we had 4,508 alumni make gifts to TTU; last year we had 3,888 to make donations. This number signifies a 13 percent giving rate among our alums, which is very good. Just about five years ago, we were only at six percent. This is an increase of 620 alumni who are giving back to their university. And many of them made several gifts," Isbell said.

"A lot of our alums are stepping forward because they realize how bad the higher education funding situation really is," he added.

"Through our phone-a-thon and our direct mail campaign to alums, we brought in more than $200,000," Isbell explained. "This is an increase of approximately 42 percent over last year's amount.

"And when you go from six percent to 13 percent of alumni giving, that's a lot of people. The gifts made are small gifts. But this is where the process begins and over time we hope these alums will continue to make TTU part of their charitable giving."

Next year's goal at TTU for alumni giving is to have 14 percent of former students make gifts; by 2005, TTU hopes to have 17 percent.

"Seventeen percent is a very high giving rate for a public university. When you get to this number, you are getting close to the level of participation at private universities," said Isbell.

Fund raising at Tennessee Tech, and at all public and private universities, is a year-round task. And with the dwindling state money, Tennessee Tech is relying more on private donations.

"One reason fund raising is becoming so important is because state funding keeps shrinking. The only funding source we have other than the state is private support," said Isbell.

"We don't want to compromise the quality of education a student receives at Tennessee Tech, and it takes resources to maintain that quality."

--Dyana Bagby

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