CityU alumni face US-style donation drive

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2008, 12:00am

City University graduates can expect a call from the new president's henchmen begging for cash in a US-style fund-raising campaign.

Unveiling his plans for the university's development, Kuo Way said he aimed to raise the percentage of alumni giving donations by sixfold in 10 years' time.

To achieve the target - from roughly 4 per cent to 25 per cent - Professor Kuo said a new fund-raising campaign would be set up to lobby alumni for support.

'At present, outside the US, the fund-raising systems in most universities around the world are not well advanced,' he said. 'In Hong Kong, most of the people give donations to universities voluntarily. The donations are not raised in an institutionalised manner.'

Professor Kuo, former dean of engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said the CityU campaign would be modelled on those in the United States. It would include a database of the status of the most recent alumni, such as their addresses and occupations, to enable university staff to reach them and ask for donations.

'One important matter in raising funds is how to approach potential donors,' he said. 'It is easy for rich people to reach us. Yet there are also people who are not as rich but are as willing to give donations.

'In the US, many universities have a sophisticated system. Alumni receive letters asking for donations from their alma mater as soon as three months after their graduation.'

An academic from the US experienced in university fund-raising would be invited to lead the campaign, Professor Kuo said.

'My aim is not to raise a huge amount of donations in my tenure, but to set up a mechanism from which our future generations can benefit.'

Professor Kuo said the ability to secure donations was key to the success of a university, and he hoped CityU could break into the 100 best universities, in a major international ranking, in 10 years' time.

CityU was ranked 149th in The Times Higher Education Supplement last year.

He cited Harvard University as one of the most successful examples of raising funds in the US, with up to 85 per cent of alumni giving donations. He said the average of other universities in the country was only 40 per cent.

Besides the new donation campaign, Professor Kuo said CityU was planning to enhance its research in two areas that were of global concern: life science and energy.

An academic from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and another from Washington University would be invited to advise on the planning of the two research areas.

Professor Kuo was born in Taiwan and appointed CityU president in November. He formally took the helm two weeks ago.

Adding up

In each of the first two rounds of a government matching-grant scheme, CityU received (in HK dollars) $45 million

In the third round of the scheme, which closed last year, this had increased to $82m