Officials claim major success closed books deter evaluation


University of Maryland Foundation Inc. officials claim success for their biggest undertaking -- a $200 million, five-year fund-raising campaign -- but closed books make the claim hard to evaluate.

To date, the Campaign for Maryland reports $151 million raised, at one of the lowest costs in the business: last year, 2 cents per dollar.

But the cost doesn't include the expenses and salaries of campus-based officials who raise much of the money. Nor can the foundation report how well it has met its goal for the most important type of giving because, officials say, they don't have the right computer software.

The most important element of any fund-raising effort is endowment -- money that is invested to provide income to support faculty, research and scholarships. When it was launched in 1988, the campaign set out to raise $95 million for endowment, $69 million for buildings and $36 million for academic expenses.

Officials launched the campaign at a time when campus fund-raising operations were still developing and the university system itself was engaged in major change. They hired John Martin at a salary of $150,000 to direct the campaign in 1987, but last year gave him the additional job of foundation president. The campaign has not issued a report in more than a year and, with two years to go, appears inactive.

When asked how it was going, George Dieter, dean of engineering at College Park and a top fund-raiser, responded, "What campaign?"

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