Editorial: Funding our futures
The importance of fundraising
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 12:09
The cost of college tuition is an ever-worsening issue for students across the country, but University of New Hampshire students can breath a little bit easier – at least momentarily. About a month after Gov. Maggie Hassan and the USNH Board of Trustees announced a two-year in-state tuition freeze, the university announced its record setting fundraising year.
As a state-funded university in the state with the lowest per capita state support, any help is significant. After the university was burdened with a 49 percent cut in state funding in 2011, students deserve some good news.
In-state tuition for the 2013-14 academic year is $13,670, and will remain at this rate for two years (out-of-state students are paying nearly double this rate at $26,390 and are not guaranteed any tuition stability). For the next two years, the majority of UNH students – about 55 percent are New Hampshire residents – will not have to increase their payments to the university, but that does not diminish the university’s need to continue bringing in more money. With the tuition freeze, fundraising seems more important now than ever.
Because the university cannot bring in any more revenue with in-state tuition increases for the time being, fundraising needs to remain a priority. The university is still able to increase out-of-state tuition and room and board, but these should not be used as resources to recover the difference; fundraising should be the resource.
Bypassing the previous record fundraising year by $6 million is an impressive achievement, but the university needs to ensure that this trend now continues. This last fundraising record was from 2002 at $29.9 million, with numbers dropping off significantly after that. The UNH Foundation’s fundraising efforts have clearly paid off within the past year and it is vital that they continue to.
However, fundraising can only be this successful if alumni and friends – along with corporations, organizations, and public and private foundations – are willing to donate. And approaching students only after they graduate about the importance of fundraising may be too late to fully demonstrate how their hard-earned dollars can help their alma mater. Very few students contribute to the senior gift while at UNH, but in the past few years, the university has established campaigns to improve the number of students donating.
Awareness of the benefits of fundraising and donations should be a priority while students are still on campus. Current fundraising successes are thanks in large part to generous alumni, for which current students should be more informed of. The “A Thousand Thanks” campaign is a start by the university to increase awareness, but more programs like this would be advantageous to the university’s goal. The generosity of alumni should be inspiration to current students to one day also give back when their educations and careers enable them to do so.
As successful as last year’s fundraising was, improvements can still be made. President Mark Huddleston detailed a plan to focus on fundraising in the 2012 State of the University Address, which has already begun to show. This record high in fundraising should be a starting point for this long term plan and not be the peak of fundraising for a decade, as with the last record; students – current and future – deserve a dedication to fundraising from the administration.