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A strong year for 'Possibilities'

  • February 1, 2011

As of January 2011, Cal State East Bay has received $8.5 million in gifts and pledges to its University of Possibilities comprehensive fundraising campaign. The rise in private support is welcome news for the university community and supports the results of a feasibility study commissioned by the Cal State East Bay Educational Foundation in 2009, which indicated that the campaign has the potential to raise $40 to $50 million to support key university objectives.

The campaign was launched in July 2009 and is expected to run seven to eight years. Bob Burt, vice president of University Advancement, said the fundraising results represent “a solid start and good progress,” especially considering this is the university’s first comprehensive campaign.

“We’re already more than 15 percent of the way toward our possible final goal,” Burt said.

The first stage of the campaign, the “leadership” phase, is focused on foundational gifts, primarily from corporations, foundations and other major private donors. These early gifts demonstrate that community leaders are supportive of the campaign and the university’s strategic goals, Burt said. He added that this initial phase usually lasts three to four years, or about half the total length of the campaign.

While some gifts have already been made in full, others are pledges that will be paid in installments during the course of the campaign. The $8.5 million total to date represents the amount of money both received and committed.

The University of Possibilities campaign has four broad priority areas, each with individual projects and goals. As part of the preparation for the campaign in 2007 and 2008, university administrators reviewed proposals from deans, faculty, staff and administrators to determine the campaign priority areas, Burt explained.

The first priority, with the largest overall dollar goal, will support academic excellence and distinction with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The STEM education initiative — one of the university’s top academic priorities — seeks to expand teaching of STEM subjects at CSUEB, to improve STEM education and teaching at the kindergarten through 12th grade levels and to raise support for construction of a new STEM education building on the Hayward campus.

Additionally, gifts to this campaign priority will increase funds for endowed professorships and endowed chairs, with the goal of attracting and retaining top faculty to the university by supporting their research and teaching.

The second campaign priority focuses on increasing access to opportunity and higher education by creating and expanding scholarships and college pathway programs. More than $4 million has already been committed to this campaign area, with almost $1.5 million designated for scholarships. Extending scholarship opportunities to students is especially key to improving access, said Campaign Director Anne Harris.

“For higher education to be accessible, it must be affordable,” she said. “Need-based and merit-based scholarships make it possible for more students to attend Cal State East Bay, especially as tuition fees rise.”

College pathway programs, aimed at regional K-12 students to motivate and help them prepare to apply for and attend college, have received significant private support as well. The Mathematics Achievement Academies received a three-year, $1.5 million grant from Chevron as well as additional support from AT&T, Bank of America, Union Bank of California and Lam Research.

Also focused on students, the third campaign priority concentrates on advancing student achievement and success. Plans include the transformation of the library into a modern learning commons, as well as increased opportunities for undergraduates to participate in research projects.

The final campaign priority covers new opportunities and projects, which Harris said will allow the university to respond to new ideas and help meet emerging needs. The university also seeks to triple the size of its endowment in order to provide a permanent source of ongoing support. 

Because the University of Possibilities campaign is comprehensive, all gifts to Cal State East Bay are counted toward the total campaign goal, not just those made in response to campaign priorities. The “public” phase of the campaign is expected to begin in 2013 and last another three to four years. The campaign’s ultimate dollar goal and final priorities will be announced at the start of the public phase, when fundraisers will increase outreach to alumni and friends, soliciting smaller gifts at greater volume to meet the total goal.

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