PSU hping to ‘cash in’ with Jim Braun
In August, Portland State hired Jim Braun as associate athletic director for development. His position, which is a new one to PSU athletics, was created to build monetary support for athletics by focusing on fundraising.
The development position has the responsibilities of getting funds for the athletic department that can be used mainly for scholarships but also for other department expenses. One of the biggest ways this is accomplished is through the development of the Viking Backer Booster Club. The Viking Backers are friends, alumni and advocates of PSU that support athletics by donating a financial gift.
Before creating this position the athletic department ran development without a lot of proficiency. Staff members responsible for other aspects within athletics had performed development while also keeping up with their given job duties.
”You really can’t be efficient at development,” said Teri Mariani, interim athletic director at PSU. “A lot of development is relationships, and building them.”
With school funding where it’s at lately, positions such as these are critical to developing quality programs. Departments and schools around campus are calling upon alumni and PSU supporters for financial support in order to build reputable programs. The athletic department decided it was necessary and started making personnel changes to accommodate the new position.
”With state funding as it is and cuts happening, we need to maximize our area of development and we need to have someone that can just be focused on that,” Mariani said.
Braun is a great candidate for this position for many reasons. His father held a similar position for PSU in the 1980s, so he is familiar with the university and the city. He has background knowledge of PSU and has always followed PSU. There will be a comfortable transition for Braun since he knows some of the staff members, and his enthusiasm, which is apparent from the moment one meets him, may be one of his biggest assets.
”He’s young, he’s energetic, [and] he wants to be in the Northwest,” Mariani said.
Braun has worked in development before, most recently for the University of Colorado Foundation as a development associate. Before that he spent four years as an assistant athletics director for development at St. Louis University, where he was able to secure a $1 million gift and a $250,000 gift for the athletic program.
Braun wants to build a top-class athletic development department at PSU athletics. As a school that doesn’t drive a lot of revenue from season ticket sales, PSU will have to be creative in fundraising for its athletic fund. An immediate goal of the program is to expand its donor base with more supporters making annual donations. Also, fund drives and other avenues that previously hadn’t been explored will play a big role in funding.
”Our budget is based on what we can raise,” said Braun.
One way to build the funds needed will be to ask each Viking Backer to increase their donation to the athletic fund and help by referring other potential supporters, Braun said. Since PSU has the biggest enrollment in the state, new supporters are just waiting to be found. Requesting major gifts is a future goal that will take time building relationships with potential donors.
Building athletic funds can prove to be beneficial to all students and alumni for Portland State. The value of the PSU diploma is in the hands of how the school is perceived by outsiders, and athletics plays a large role in that perception.
”The status of someone’s degree can be directly attributed, in my opinion, to how their athletic program is,” Braun said
More funding for athletics can create a circular effect. The increased visibility that successful athletic programs bring can cause a higher demand in PSU, thereby building an academic reputation by raising admissions standards. Also, donors who give to the athletic department have eventually shown support to other areas of the university, according to Mariani.