Fundraising must continue to be about students

Kernel Editorial Board

Having $1 billion may seem like a lot of money, but for the UK Development Office’s fundraising effort, it is only the beginning.

According to a Feb. 4 Kernel article, in 2008 the Development Office reached more than $1 billion in fundraising as part of the university’s 10-year capital campaign assigned by UK President Lee Todd. The goal of the drive was to raise scholarships for undergraduate, medical, law and graduate programs with the majority of donations the office accumulates going toward academic and financial-aid scholarships.

Tuition increases, stagnant loans, noncomprehensive financial aid and a poor economy have made college more difficult pay for, and any institutional help is always a plus.

“That tears my heart out … it tears me up when students don’t have enough money,” said D. Michael Richey, vice president for development and chief development officer.

There are several campaigns on the horizon, including the Presidential Scholarship Initiative, scheduled to begin in June 2010. The project is number one on Todd’s priority list, Richey said.

With UK’s goal of becoming a top institution and the growing number of students in need of post-secondary education, a move like this makes sense both for the university’s goals and to help students find access to higher education.

The focus must remain on making students the top priority and investing in the well-being of the people on campus in the fundraising drives.

Attaining the top-20 goal is as much an investment in people as it is in hitting goals and meeting benchmarks. The more funding that goes toward assisting students, the more UK can compete to bring in the best and brightest, even if it requires asking donors for handouts.