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September 1, 1994

Undergrad business school fundraising hampered by several factors, Weber says

University Times


Copyright (c) 1994, University of Pittsburgh


Undergrad business school fundraising hampered by several factors, Weber says

With the first students in Pitt's College of Business Administration (CBA) scheduled to begin classes one year from now, the University has raised just $500,000 toward its goal of $25 million-to-$30 million in private gifts to create the new undergraduate college and construct a building to house it.

Besides raising $500,000 in signed pledges, Pitt has approached several other donors for "substantial" gifts for CBA, said Lawrence Weber, vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement.

But Weber, who is Pitt's chief fundraiser, noted: "At this point, the CBA fundraising campaign is still pending in terms of its ability to generate significant gifts." Weber cited two major reasons the campaign hasn't taken off yet, more than two years after the Board of Trustees approved creating the new college: * Pitt still doesn't have a definite site for the CBA building.

* The University has not recruited campaign leaders to replace the two Pitt trustees who quit the campaign in fall 1993.

After seriously considering four other sites for the new school, Pitt's administration now favors the SB parking lot across Bouquet Street from the Katz Graduate School of Business. However, Pitt hasn't finished evaluating the site, a process that includes taking core ground samples to determine if underground parking is feasible.

Nor has the city given final approval to a new building there. In May, Mayor Tom Murphy rejected Pitt's request to construct the CBA building on a sliver of Schenley Park, thus ruling out the Pitt's two preferred sites at the time — one adjacent to Mervis Hall behind Mazeroski Wall, the other on a hillside along Joncaire Street.

Pitt administrators have all but ruled out two other sites — setting the CBA building on pillars above Mervis Hall or suspending it over Roberto Clemente Drive — as being too expensive.

CBA students will spend their freshman and sophomore years taking non-business classes in existing space, mainly in Faculty of Arts and Sciences departments. The CBA building isn't scheduled for completion until 1997, two years after the college is up and running.

According to Weber and Katz school Dean H.J. Zoffer, it is a triple handicap trying to raise money for a new building project that lacks a definite site, an exact cost estimate and even an architect's sketch. Zoffer, in addition to heading Pitt's graduate business school, will also be dean of CBA.

As for the campaign leadership vacuum, Weber said that efforts to recruit trustees to head the CBA campaign will remain on hold until the board settles its top leadership priority: recruiting a new chairperson to succeed Farrell Rubenstein, who will step down on June 30, 1995.

"When that's resolved, we fully expect to quickly resolve the lingering questions of leadership for the business school campaign," Weber said.

The campaign's original leaders were trustee Thomas J. Usher and former trustee Thomas Marshall. They resigned last fall as chairperson and co-chairperson, respectively, of the CBA campaign, saying they did so because Pitt's administration did not take seriously their warnings that the University stood to lose millions of dollars from potential donors who are offended that Pitt provides employee fringe benefits to homosexual couples.

In a University Times interview last January, Marshall estimated that the CBA campaign will lose at least $2 million over the same-sex benefits issue. Weber says the issue will have "a highly negligible impact, if any" on the campaign.

* * * In another multi-million dollar fund-raising campaign, the University has "in excess of $1 million" so far in signed pledges toward the $3.07 million needed to pay for the first phase of a $19.4 million renovation of Pitt Stadium, according to Athletics Director Oval Jaynes.

Based on "very strong" verbal commitments from other donors, Jaynes said, Pitt should be able to increase the total of signed pledges to about $3 million by mid-September. "We feel very comfortable that we're going to reach our fundraising goal and begin the project on schedule," he said.

The project's first phase is scheduled to begin soon after the final home game of the 1994 football season, a Nov. 19 matchup against Rutgers, with completion set for July 1995. This phase involves construction of a football equipment room home locker rooms, a training area, a weight room and a steel frame for two new underground floors.

According to the athletics department's agreement with Pitt's administration, all of the money for the eight-phase renovation must come from athletics revenue (ticket income, TV money, etc.) and from private funds donated specifically for the project. Renovations to the 69-year-old stadium would proceed in eight sequential phases. No phase can begin until funding for it becomes available.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 27 Issue 1

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