Undergrad Blues Leave Alumni Donors Scarce

    When UCSD began its billion-dollar fundraising campaign seven years ago, consultants were skeptical. They challenged the university’s status as a pubescent school and questioned its ability to garner needed levels of financial support from alumni just now approaching their 50s.

    But Chancellor Marye Anne Fox had other plans. Realizing that UCSD’s youth would likely limit possible donations from alumni, campaign leaders targeted private organizations, including the Skaggs Insitute for Research (which gave $30 million to the university).

    Now, however, with the colossal “What’s Next” campaign completed, and the university an astounding $1.03 billion wealthier, it is the perfect time to re-examine the college’s approach and determine where future efforts would be most effectively directed. Do we stick with our traditional approach of appealing to San Diego’s bevy of biotech companies, or do we turn to our aging alumni base?

    One thing is clear: While consultants may have pegged the school’s age as an insurmountable obstacle toward fundraising efforts with alumni, a more problematic handicap is UCSD’s undergraduate environment. Before we can attract a thick alumni base, graduating seniors need to leave UCSD feeling connected, feeling like the four years they spent here were four years they could not have spent anywhere else.

    For this to happen, students need to experience both community and satisfaction throughout the course of their stay — something the campus’ disunity has yet to allow, as the Undergraduate Student Experience and Satisfaction report indicates.

    Until the administration can find remedies for the UCSD’s lingering internal problems, the safest course for future campaigns is also the most traditional one.

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