Donations to colleges on upswing Haverford College recently achieved its $200 million goal. Giving had fallen after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Posted: September 20, 2004

On Sept. 11, 2001, Haverford College's chief fund-raiser, Jill Sherman, was on her way to meet a wealthy college alumnus at the World Trade Center in hopes of securing a $1 million gift toward the school's ambitious capital campaign.

Instead, she became an eyewitness to one of the nation's worst horrors, and the alumnus she was supposed to meet was among those killed.

The tragedy took the lives of several notable Haverford alumni, and in the aftermath, the school's seven-year $200 million capital campaign stalled.

At many colleges throughout the nation, annual giving dropped off or flattened out as the economy faltered.

Despite the difficulty, Haverford recently announced that it met its $200 million fund-raising goal on schedule.

And annual giving at colleges nationally also appears to be improving.

While numbers were not yet available for fiscal 2004, which ended June 30, "modest" growth in giving is expected and is likely to continue in fiscal 2005, said John Lippincott, president of the Washington-based Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Fiscal 2002 was the first year in 14 that giving to higher education declined, if only by just over 1 percent, he said. Giving was flat in fiscal 2003 - this after some double-digit increases in the 1990s.

Colleges traditionally use campaign donations for building projects, new programs and financial aid and scholarships.

Haverford credits its success to a last-minute push by the 45 members of its board, who agreed to match donations in the last year; an overseas operation that reached out to alumni; and aggressive efforts at home.

The school also benefited from an extraordinary action by the father of Doug Gardner, the alumnus whom Sherman was going to meet. Joseph Gardner called two days after 9/11 and pledged to follow through with the $1 million gift.

"That was the beginning of many miraculous gestures that people made throughout the course of this effort," said Sherman, vice president for institutional advancement.

Fund-raising experiences at area colleges in the last several years vary.

Drexel University reports that fund-raising has remained the same - about $50 million a year - since 2000.

Cabrini College in Radnor experienced a 15 percent drop in giving after 9/11, which also happened to be a period when the school changed leadership. As a result, the school has delayed the deadline for its capital campaign by three years, to 2007, said Robin Moll, vice president of institutional advancement.

This year, things are much better. Fund-raising is up 24 percent over last year, to $2.13 million, she said.

Swarthmore College is about 70 percent of the way through its $230 million capital campaign. It has collected about $165 million, said Dan West, vice president for alumni, development and public relations.

"We've been able to stay on schedule, but it's been very hard work," West said. "We've had to see more people, make more visits, have more conversations."

At Temple University, gifts and pledges for fiscal 2004 hit a five-year high at $50.3 million, said spokesman Mark Eyerly. The school plans to embark soon on a campaign to build an expansion of its school of business and management, a new school of medicine, and a new facility for its Tyler School of Art.

Rutgers University announced in July that it had completed a six-year, $615 million campaign, exceeding its goal of $500 million by 23 percent. It did not notice a negative impact after 9/11, said Barbara Dawson, director of development writing for the Rutgers University Foundation.

"Our donors were very much energized by the fact that Rutgers created a Sept. 11 scholarship fund for the children of New Jersey residents killed as a result of 9/11 events," she said.

Haverford, a 1,200-student liberal-arts college, stopped actively soliciting funds for its campaign just after 9/11.

"There just was nothing we could do but hug each other at that time," Sherman said.

In spring 2002, it resumed active fund-raising and got a strong response initially, but then entered a slower period.

"People felt a great deal of uncertainty in the world," she said. "When they feel that way, they're going to give more thought to their philanthropy."

In the last year, the school was still shy $58 million - that's as much as was raised in the first three years. The board members then offered to match any gift up to $20 million, taking it over the top.

Haverford used its campaign funds to build a science center, start centers for peace and global citizenship and for humanities, and provide financial aid and scholarships.

It also built an athletic center, which bears the name of Doug Gardner. Haverford campaign chairman and graduate Howard Lutnick is chairman of Cantor Fitzgerald, for which Gardner worked. Lutnick gave the largest donation toward the athletic center and therefore had naming rights.

Lutnick lost 658 of his 1,000 employees in the 9/11 attacks, including his best friend, Gardner. Although he faced rebuilding his company, he remained dedicated to Haverford. His reason was heartfelt.

"When I was a freshman in my first week at Haverford, my father was killed," Lutnick said in a telephone interview last week. "My mother had died the year before from cancer. The president of Haverford called me at home and said, 'Your four years are free. Don't worry about it. When you're ready, come back.'

"It was extraordinary. It wasn't about me. They couldn't have known who I was yet. It was very much an expression of who the people at Haverford are. They were there for me when I needed it."

Contact staff writer Susan Snyder at 215-854-4693 or ssnyder@phillynews.com.

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