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NDSU Foundation to launch fundraising campaign with goal of $300 million to $400 million

FARGO — The North Dakota State University Foundation and Alumni Association is launching its most ambitious fundraising campaign ever with a goal of raising between $300 million and $400 million over seven years.

The group's executive governing board voted unanimously Friday, July 14, to embark on the campaign, with tentative plans to formally enter its public phase in 2019.

The decision was made soon after the foundation broke ground on a $23 million student housing project on the 1600 block of North University Drive that will include 103 two- and four-bedroom apartments, with room for 364 beds.

The goal for the campaign is several times larger than other recent fund drives for NDSU. The last major campaign, a five-year effort that ended in 2007, raised $110 million, surpassing its $75 million goal, said John Glover, the foundation and alumni association's president and CEO.

"This is a big deal," he said. "Exciting."

Most of the money will be raised to support NDSU students and faculty, such as student scholarships and fellowships as well as endowed faculty positions, with less emphasis on brick and mortar projects, Glover said.

NDSU President Dean Bresciani said the money will help students and faculty "achieve new heights."

He added: "This campaign will allow us to continue building on our progress, with a sharp focus on investments in our people."

The fundraising campaign comes as NDSU is coping with a 17 percent cut in its budget for 2017-19, and cutbacks in its 2015-17 budget as well. As a result of that austerity, the university now has about 100 fewer faculty, Bresciani said.

For students, that will translate into fewer class offerings and larger classes, he added. For faculty, it will mean a bigger classroom and advising load, which will make it more difficult to maintain research at a high level.

Bresciani said the ambitious fundraising campaign, and the increased support it will enable, will come as welcome news to faculty and students.

The decision to proceed with the fund drive follows 18 months of discussion and preparations, including a feasibility report from a consulting firm, Bentz Whaley Flessner, which determined the $300 million to $400 million goal was achievable.

A survey of major donors found that almost three-fourths rank NDSU among their top three philanthropic priorities, a level of support consultant Dennis Prescott said was promising.

"Your top prospects appear to be very committed to the university," he said.

The $300 million to $400 million goal is considered an "initial working goal." The campaign will date back to 2016, since some donors made contributions starting then with the campaign in mind, and will conclude in 2022.

"We certainly are optimistic that the support is there," Glover said. "We need donors to step up. We have a lot of work to do."

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to letters@forumcomm.com

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