Dialing for dollars


For its first dive in the fund-raising pool, the University of Maryland System executed a fairly impressive full-gainer: UMS has reached a $200 million goal it had set for its five-year campaign 1 1/2 years ahead of schedule. The campaign, begun in 1988, isn't to run out until the end of 1993, so officials have revised the goal to a level they initially rejected as unrealistic: $236 million.

"It can no longer be said that Maryland's public universities do not enjoy private support," said Allen J. Krowe, a senior vice president and chief financial officer of Texaco Inc., who chairs the campaign. He is a graduate of the College of Business and Management at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Nearly a quarter of the campaign contributions came from alumni; a third came from corporations. Of 125,000 donors, 40 gave $1 million or more. The campaign's quick success produced a collective sigh of relief within the system, which is composed of 11 degree-granting campuses and three research and public-service institutions. While other public universities around the country have fine-tuned their fund-raising machinery over the years, Maryland's government-fed system wasn't used to seeking nourishment from the private sector.

To be sure, the current Campaign for the University of Maryland System is modest by standards of many other state universities. The University of Florida, for instance, recently completed a five-year campaign that raised $391 million, half of its annual expenditures. By comparison, the University of Maryland's goal, if met, would cover a fifth of its yearly budget.

Still, the initial achievement is a solid measure of confidence in the Maryland campuses, which joined in 1987. The new big fish entering the philanthropic pond could also have implications for the state's private schools, the traditional recipients of corporate dollars for higher education. Some officials of private institutions, however, surmise that an increased awareness for college philanthropy might benefit all.

All those Baby Boomers who flooded public college campuses in the 1960s and '70s, seizing Old Main and experimenting with marijuana, may be a silver lining for the public universities such as Maryland's: Now that they've matured and gained status and wealth, they're in a position to donate to their alma maters.

The University of Maryland System suffered some growing pains after a politically painful infancy a few years back, but the recent campaign achievement is a welcome forward step.

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