New VP: Spend money to make money?

Chico State University hasn’t met the money-raising goal set by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, so President Manuel Esteban has ordered a solution: Hire someone.

The search will soon be under way for a fourth vice president, a person who will be in charge of university advancement. That’s education-speak for fund-raising—something the Chancellor’s Office has told campuses it must commit itself to, in an amount equal to 10 percent of the general fund.

Even amid budget cuts, President Manuel Esteban is certain the position (VPs typically earn at least $100,000) would more than pay for itself.

“I realize that this … decision will be seen by some as untimely, given our budgetary situation,” Esteban stated in a memo to top Chico State officials. But the CSU is judging presidents on their campuses’ ability to raise money, and, “it is essential that the institution do all it can to facilitate fund raising.”

William Boldt, the vice president for university advancement at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo since the position was created in 1994, said someone dedicated almost entirely to raising money and coordinating gifts is crucial, especially as state support becomes less stable. “You have the most control over private support,” he said, and at residential campuses like Chico, “students develop a sense of family while they’re there and they want to give back.” He’s surprised Chico—reportedly the only CSU without someone in that position—has made it this long without having a vice president for university advancement.

CSUs lagged behind the UCs and private colleges in dedicating more resources to university advancement. Earlier this year, the CSU blamed the economic downturn for the fact that more than half of the 23 campuses raised less money in 2001-02 than in the previous year, even as the actual dollars raised increased 3.8 percent to a record $257.2 million.

In the early 1990s, the Chancellor’s Office directed campuses to raise an amount each year equal to at least 10 percent of the general fund. Chico State has been raising less than 10 percent, while Cal Poly SLO last year came up with 27 percent, spending only 8 cents to get each dollar.

“No single individual is responsible for the current state of affairs,” Esteban’s memo read, “but it is a set of circumstances that we must change.” In addition to the new vice president, who likely won’t be seated until January 2004, he has appointed a Transition Task Force for Development. Also, campus-wide fund-raising efforts will be centralized in this new office.

The current vice president for student affairs and university advancement, Paul Moore, was out of the office and could not be reached for comment early this week. But Esteban made a point to state in his memo that the capable Moore “courageously accepted this challenge” to pull double-duty, and once the new VP is found Moore will drop the university advancement responsibility to focus solely on student affairs.

Boldt, who knows Moore personally, said, “I can’t imagine doing student affairs and advancement. … He’s basically doing the job of three people.” University advancement usually covers other “external” issues such as marketing and public relations, but Boldt said, “I probably spend 75 percent of my time on fund-raising and alumni affairs.”

Also last week, the CSU announced that new presidents had been hired for CSU, Sacramento (Alexander Gonzalez, current president of CSU, San Marcos) and Cal Poly Pomona (J. Michael Ortiz, a VP at Fresno State). That task completed, the CSU will now focus on seeking a president to replace Esteban, who is retiring this year.