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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

With Lawrence, univ combines development and recruitment

Published: March 25, 2011
Section: Front Page

Florida. San Francisco. Long Island. Westchester. Newark. Manhattan. Boston. Philadelphia. Washington. Miami. Los Angeles.

These are the stops on the meet Fred Lawrence tour—the university’s campaign to combine both development and admissions recruitment as it introduces its new president to a community of alumni, parents, students and friends.

“He hit the ground running because he didn’t have to learn Brandeis,” said Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement Nancy Winship, who began working with Lawrence the first week in August.

“What comes across when he speaks is that Brandeis fits him like a glove,” she said during an interview in her office Thursday afternoon.

The university is on pace, as planned, to raise at least $8 million in unrestricted funds by June for the College of Arts and Sciences’ operating budget. Next year, the university plans to raise $11 million specifically in unrestricted funds for the Arts and Sciences operating budget.

Yet only a portion of the university’s fundraising goes towards unrestricted funds in the operating budget. Gifts to endowment or capital for example, are separate.

Additional funds raised, which in the past have ranged from $60 to $85 million, go towards supporting the Heller School, International Business School, academic programs, athletics and many other departments in the university. But sufficient funds in the operating budget are crucial for the university to function.

Winship, who has been raising funds at Brandeis for more than 16 years, said that the chief fundraising goal now is student financial aid.

When a university president steps down, fundraising typically declines from previous levels because donors are less willing to give when they know a president is leaving and unsure of his replacement, Winship said. During the beginning of a presidency, it takes time for supporters to meet and become acclimated with a new president.

That pattern has played out at Brandeis, Whinship said, but the roll-out events are intended to introduce Lawrence and to build a foundation of connections with donors and supporters.

The foundations from roll-outs will lead to more individual meetings between Lawrence and interested supporters, many of whom will become donors. The university, after a series of roll-outs, will continue to hold annual alumni and outreach events in major cities.

Traveling the country to promote and fundraise for Brandeis today, Winship finds a far different environment than the climate she traveled in during 1994, with former university President Jehuda Reinharz.

When Reinharz began in 1994, total annual fundraising resulted in $22 million. Under his presidency, it expanded in recent years, to a range of $72 to $80 million.

“We went everywhere to see anyone to get a check as a gift,” Winship said about the 1994 fundraising campaign.

Brandeis is unique among other institutions because the majority of its financial support comes from “friends” or non-alumni of the university. The average age of a Brandeis alum is 41, Director of Development Communications David Nathan said.

But the concept of making alumni outreach events not just about development is new. Lawrence always attends each “roll-out” event with Dean of the Hiatt Career Center Joseph Du Pont and Dean of Admissions Mark Spencer, in addition to Winship and his wife Kathy.

“We never integrated Alumni Development events with admissions [before],” Winship said. “Alumni Relations is now working very seamlessly with admissions.”

Now, admitted students are invited to come meet Lawrence. After every roll-out event, the following morning, Lawrence also attends a breakfast with local high school guidance counselors.

The university plans to increase its focus and outreach in Southern California, and specifically Los Angeles, Winship said.

There are growing numbers of students from the area and Lawrence has also expressed interest in expanding the university’s film program. His wife, Kathy grew up in Los Angeles, and her connections have helped to promote Brandeis on recent trips.

Lawrence has already hosted two roll-out events in Los Angeles in just three months as President.