Members of University Community Give Back
Through Annual Fund
"I think we're at a really important time in the development of UConn as a Research I university."
That assessment by Judith A. Kelly, professor of molecular and cell biology, explains why she became involved in Campaign UConn, the major fund-raising campaign for the benefit of the University that will enter its public phase in May. The campaign will center on garnering private support for faculty enrichment and endowed chairs, scholarships, and interdisciplinary programs that enhance UConn's contributions as a public research university.
The Research I designation, made by the Carnegie Foundation, placed UConn in the same league with the major public research universities in the nation. Carnegie's system changed last year, but UConn remains in the top category, "Doctoral/ Research Universities /Extensive," which includes just 148 of the 3,856 institutions classified. The goal of the campaign is to support the University's drive to be recognized among the top 25 schools in that category.
The "leadership" phase of the campaign fund raising was begun by the University of Connecticut Foundation Inc. in 1998. So far, nearly $140 million has been raised. The campaign will continue to 2004, and its goal will be announced at the public kick-off event on May 3.
Kelly, who has been on the faculty for more than 20 years, was department head of molecular and cell biology for seven years and is a member of the University's Campaign Steering Committee. She says the support raised by the campaign will "foster scholarship among the faculty and the students." One of the campaign goals is to triple the number of endowed faculty chairs and scholarships at UConn.
Another goal is to increase the scope of annual contributions from $20 million in 1998 to $70 million by 2004. Annual giving is managed through the University's Annual Fund, which promotes consistent, yearly contributions to provide support for scholarships and University programs. Contributions to the Annual Fund will count toward the campaign goal, but this fund-raising drive is conducted each year, regardless of whether a campaign is under way.
This year for the first time, faculty and staff are being specifically asked to support the fund. Kelly and M. Kevin Fahey Jr., associate director of student development and learning, signed a letter sent in mid-March to faculty and staff who have not given to the Annual Fund this year.
Kelly, who received a B.S. in 1973 and a Ph.D. in 1978, both from UConn, and her husband, David C. Kelly, who retired four years ago after serving as department head of art and art history, have themselves consistently given to UConn for many years. Their gifts have benefited areas such as the School of Fine Arts, the Museum of Natural History, the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, and the UConn Libraries.
"We've got decades of experience and association with UConn," she says. "We see what UConn has done for students, and we feel these opportunities to support the Annual Fund will enhance UConn."
Fahey and his wife, Jeanne, a senior admissions officer, also have contributed regularly for many years to areas such as athletics and Jorgensen Auditorium. They are members of The Founders Society, the Foundation's association for donors who give $1,000 or more a year to benefit UConn.
"The University does a lot of great things. I like to think I play a role in that greatness," says Fahey, who has worked at UConn for 22 years and has served eight years as president of the UConn Professional Employees Association. "I have a lot of pride in what I do as a professional at UConn. I feel a part of the community, therefore I like to give back to the community. Obligation is not the right word - giving just seems like the right thing to do."
Chad D. Ellis, '98, M.A. '99, a teacher at South Windsor High School, also felt compelled to give something back to UConn when he got his first teaching job last year. He earmarked $100 from his first paycheck to benefit the Neag School of Education.
"I got to build a lot of good relationships with faculty and staff when I was at UConn," he explains. "If I can help - give someone else the opportunity I had - that would be great."
Alumni participation in the Annual Fund is one of the factors used in achieving national recognition. U.S. News & World Report, for instance, includes alumni giving as one of seven key criteria in ranking schools. The two public national universities tied for top place in its ranking last year - the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Virginia - had alumni giving rates of 18 percent and 29 percent, respectively. UConn's alumni giving rate jumped from 14 percent to 19 percent in fiscal year 2000, placing the University among the top schools in that category.
Says Kelly, "Those of us who are affiliated with UConn can make a difference."