Private Donations Important to Universities

SFA Alumni Director Jim Jeters proudly serves the Nacogdoches Rotary Club, but the civic duty gives him a room to work. The room is full of prospective donors. State funding to universities is as low as 10% in some parts of the nation. Jeters' ability to dip into the pockets of those who can give is crucial.   Jeters explained,  " Most public universities have just got in high gear in the last 25-30 years understanding that if there is going to be a margin of excellence for public universities it's going to be our alums and our friends."

Friends like Ed Cole. He never went to college, but certainly supports higher education through his generous donations. Yet he knows not everyone is so giving.    Cole said, " You just got to get the right kind of people that's wiling to share. That's the main thing. There's a lot of people that's got the money, but they're just holding onto it."

And that can frustrate financial directors. Vice president for finances Debbie Baisden sighs,  " You know, I wish we were doing better." Funding resources must be diversified if public universities want to stop raising their tuition and hearing "no" from the state.   Baisden observed, " We have a limited level of private funding for scholarships. That's something we definitely need to look at in the future." Jeters said, "We have about a $20-million endowment that's focused on scholarships. We're doing well, but we can always do better."

SFA has been without a university advancement vice-president since June. That's the person in charge of raising outside funds. Administrators say efforts are underway to fill the position to get outside fundraising back on track.