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Private giving boosts faculty endowments, student aid

The University of California raised $1.56 billion in private support over the past fiscal year, donations that are helping recruit and retain top-level faculty, build critical research facilities and expand student scholarships.

It’s the second year in a row that UC has achieved $1.5 billion in private giving, a milestone that brings the university close to its pre-recession high of $1.6 billion.

It’s unlikely that philanthropy will ever be able to replace UC’s reliance on state funds, particularly when it comes to how the university pays for core educational operations, said Dan Dooley, senior vice president for external relations. But donations are becoming an increasingly important part of the budget picture.

“Private gifts are furthering every part of the university — and we are so grateful for the support,” Dooley said. “As our state funds have fallen, we’ve seen donors step up to create more endowed faculty chairs and student scholarships, gifts that go right to the heart of our funding challenges.”

For example, donors last year established 75 new endowed chairs across the UC system, positions that are reserved for distinguished scholars and teachers.

These endowed positions help attract and retain outstanding faculty by allowing UC to offer chair holders supplemental funds for teaching, research and service. And as endowments, these gifts live on for years to come. The university now has more than 1,600 endowed chairs across its 10 campuses, a number that has climbed steadily over the past 10 years.

“Donors rightfully recognize that this kind of contribution has an enduring impact and helps shape our future,” Dooley said. He presented the 2011-12 annual report on private support to UC’s Board of Regents on Nov. 14.

Student scholarships are another top fundraising goal for the university, he said, and an area where UC is gaining traction.

UC launched Project You Can, a systemwide effort to raise $1 billion for student support, in late 2009. The program hit the $500 million mark in June 2012 and is on track to reach its goal by 2014, Dooley said. That program is just one example of UC’s longstanding commitment to ensuring that tuition is never a barrier to student access, he said.

The university has a generous student aid program — nearly half of UC undergraduates pay no tuition — but it wants to do more, especially for the middle-class families that have been most affected by rising fees.

“We’re looking to develop partnerships with California’s business community and considering a variety of other creative ways to spur private support for our students,” Dooley said.

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