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The nation’s top-ranked public law schools, faced with dwindling state funds, are stepping up their fundraising efforts with new alumni programs in an attempt to bolster their endowments and launch large campaigns like those typical of private institutions. With limited experience in asking for large contributions, public law schools must confront the daunting task of educating their alumni about the need for big donations in lieu of state funds. As a result, many public law schools have hired more fundraising personnel and created new programs designed to encourage students and alumni to donate. Record amounts of dollars raised in the campaigns are expected to fund loan forgiveness programs and endowments, which traditionally haven’t been as significant at public law schools as they have been at private institutions. “For public schools, one of the most significant changes is the need to play in the big league in terms of the level of fundraising,” said Louise Epstein, assistant dean of advancement at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. “We want to get people into the habit of giving and understand the importance of giving back,” she added. “That is a big shift for public law schools.” Developing philanthropy Historically, most public law schools benefited from state funding while their private counterparts sought financing from alumni and other supporters. But state funding has plummeted across the nation, forcing public law schools to search for additional dollars. For example, at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, which is ranked No. 15 in the 2008 edition of U.S. News & World Report‘s law school rankings, state funding has declined to less than 40% from 70% in the past five years, said Michael W. Schill, dean of UCLA’s law school. In the past decade, state funding at the University of Minnesota Law School, ranked No. 20, has dropped from 35% to 3%, which essentially covers facilities services, said Martha Martin, director of development at the law school. Two public law schools, the University of Virginia School of Law and the University of Michigan Law School, took the lead on fundraising several years ago by building substantial endowments and raising hundreds of millions of dollars in capital campaigns. Now, other public law schools are looking to follow their lead. “They’re all facing the same things we did: Declining state support and without any expectation that will change,” said Cullen Couch, director of communications at the University of Virginia’s Law School Foundation. Virginia’s law school, which became financially independent of the University of Virginia five years ago, has tripled its endowment in the past decade to $350 million, most of which finances scholarships. The law school has a 22-person staff overseeing its foundation, some of whom are devoted to development, and hosts about 30 alumni events each year. While the size of the foundation’s staff has remained fairly constant for the past decade or so, the law school has added a few positions in alumni relations and, more recently, brought in a development officer who exclusively manages planned giving programs, Cullen said. The biggest challenge facing public law schools is convincing their alumni to donate large sums. At a public law school, “fundraising has grown larger, but it doesn’t have a robust fundraising tradition,” said Lawrence Sager, dean of the University of Texas School of Law. “I have a very large, very loyal, very loving alumni base, but they’re alumni who grew up imagining that the state of Texas was funding the law school.” Sager said that Texas, like several private schools, is financed primarily through tuition and fees because the state funds a mere 10% of its overall costs � essentially facilities services. Carla Cooper, assistant dean for development and alumni relations at the law school, said those funds are not included in Texas’ total budget. The law school’s proposed budget is about $43.5 million for the fiscal year beginning on Sept. 1. But unlike private institutions, the majority of students at Texas pay half the national average in tuition, he said. “And the schools with which we are in any sense in competition, or against which we measure ourselves, often have deep traditions of philanthropy,” Sager said. “The only way we can plausibly run the excellent law school I’m committed to running is that we have to develop our philanthropy.” Texas expects to launch its own fundraising campaign in fall 2009. The plan, Sager said, is to collect up to five times as much as the law school’s last campaign, which raised about $40 million in the late 1990s. To do that, Texas is creating a campaign leadership council made up of dozens of volunteers, trustees of the school’s foundation and other law school supporters. The council is expected to meet for the first time this fall. At University of Minnesota Law School, which is in the early planning stages of a fundraising campaign, officials plan to lure donors by asking faculty members, graduates and leaders in the legal community to advocate on its behalf, Martin said. “It’s the message that has to change,” she said of the school’s fundraising efforts. To potential donors, “we are delivering a very clear message that we need them to step up and give sacrificially.” So far, she said, some alumni have been “pretty shocked” at the school’s most recent requests, which solicit annual contributions in the six- to eight-figure range. The law school’s average donation in its last campaign, which raised more than $50 million and ended in 2002, was $251. An ‘education process’ Aggressive fundraising is “an education process for public schools,” said Jeff Coates, assistant dean for development at the University of Illinois College of Law. He said public law school alumni don’t have “the same comprehension as to why private support is needed.” Illinois, which receives 8% of its operating budget from state funds, officially launched a $50 million campaign last month, Coates said. In five years, the law school has added three of its four development staff members. Epstein said the University of California has invested in additional staff to handle communications, media relations and alumni relations. The school also started a new alumni chapter program in 2004 that holds regular events in about a dozen cities. Another program encourages third-year students to make a gift to the school, she said. California’s fundraising campaign, which is set to begin next year, has a goal of $125 million. The school’s last campaign, from the 1990s, raised $14 million. State funding has dropped to about 30% from 55% in 2000. For the past 2 1/2 years, the College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law has been sending e-mails to its 6,600 alumni informing them about events at the law school or asking for electronic donations, said Sally Kellam, associate dean for development and alumni affairs at the law school. Officials at William and Mary also have been traveling more often to visit alumni, she said. “We’re relatively new at this,” Kellam said, noting that the law school completed its first significant fundraising campaign last month at more than $30 million. William and Mary gets 8% of its budget from state funds. In some cases, officials at public law schools hope to finance more student scholarships and research programs with funds raised. But in mimicking the fundraising efforts of private institutions, several public law schools have focused on a more novel objective: substantially increasing their endowments. Doubling in Illinois At Illinois, the endowment has doubled in the past five years to $24 million, Coates said, but the school would like to triple that in 10 years. “The future for public law schools is they must have endowments comparable to private law schools,” said Schill of UCLA’s law school. The school is in the midst of a $100 million campaign that, for the first time, is raising funds to go primarily toward building the school’s endowment. The goal is to double or triple the law school’s endowment, Schill said. “The endowment income will take the place of the subsidies from the state over time,” he said. He also said that UCLA would like to quadruple the funding of its law student loan-forgiveness program in the next two years. Loan-assistance programs, while popular, are expensive, said Sager at the University of Texas. He said that the school is in the process of creating a loan-forgiveness program that would allow students to obtain full tuition and a monthly stipend if they work in public interest law for a certain number of years.

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