PSU courting private funds

Portland State plans to make an announcement regarding its current university-wide, seven-year private fund-raising campaign at the university’s Simon Benson awards dinner tonight.

The exact nature of this announcement, however, was not released at press time.

Donna Schaeffer, assistant vice president for university development, indicated that the university is hoping to achieve a certain effect in holding its announcement until this evening.

“We’ve been in a quiet hour,” Schaeffer said.

In the midst of continually decreasing funding from the state, Portland State has been turning more and more to private donations to fund the university’s projects.

Courting big-name philanthropists as well as PSU alumni, the campaign has successfully raised quite a large sum since it began in 1999. According to the PSU Foundation, the campaign boasts nearly $74 million in total given to the university thus far.

Portland State President Daniel Bernstine began the capital campaign for the university in to raise more private funds for PSU, bringing together all of PSU’s academic colleges and schools as well as the Millar Library. This is the first time in PSU history that such a campaign has been undertaken.

The campaign has produced over 118 scholarships and many important professorships. The campaign has also made possible the new Northwest Center for Engineering, whose funding has been the primary goal of the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, according to Schaeffer.

“This has been an opportunity for the schools and colleges to work collectively with the development office to raise private funding. Ten years ago, this had not occurred.” Schaeffer said.

Last spring, PSU received the biggest donation in its history, an $8 million donation from Dr. Fariborz Maseeh to the College of Engineering and Computer Science. In honor of his donation, the college was renamed the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science.

With the help of Maseeh’s donation, the Maseeh College has received the most private funding so far, with over $26 million raised. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the next-biggest breadwinner with $10 million in private donations procured.

The original goal was to obtain over $90 million in total donations to the university by 2006, Schaeffer said, with each individual academic college and school striving for it’s own individual goal.

Again, the Maseeh College and Liberal Arts and Sciences had the more lofty goals of the university, with goals of $31 million and $15.7 million respectively.

The Simon Benson awards dinner is known as Portland’s premier philanthropy event. Guests, who pay $200 a plate, will be treated to a speech by media icon Walter Cronkite. Over 1,000 people are expected to attend.

The dinner will take place this evening at the Oregon Convention Center.