By Katelyn Jacobson
City on a Hill Press Reporter
In a university that receives only about 42 percent of its funding from the state, wringing money out of the system requires a little creativity.
Since 2003, the McHenry Library Addition and Renovation Project has been carefully planned and built around budgets. There is approximately a $91 million difference between projected costs and actual money allotted to the project.
The state only provided $8.4 million out of the $100 million in expenses, a figure that left the library looking for other options, said Astrid von Soosten, director of library development.
“State funding basically covered the walls, and they gave us a little money for furniture,” von Soosten said. “$8.4 million is almost nothing.”
The solution came, not for the first time in university history, in the form of private donations from individuals and foundations, charitable gifts that put UC Santa Cruz at the mercy of donors.
Pamphlets placed throughout the library proclaim the Kresge Challenge Grant as the latest major source of funds. The exclusive foundation is backing the McHenry project and has pledged to give $700,000 if the library can raise $3 million on its own. The Kresge Challenge Grant is one of the few no-strings-attached sources of funding the library will receive.
“They want to challenge the institution that is applying for the grant to reach out to their constituencies and actually get everyone to participate,” von Soosten said. “Everybody can give a little, $10 to $15, though most of the bill is footed by large donations, by individuals and foundations that can afford to give larger gifts.”
Von Soosten gave a $5,000 gift.
“It helps to give the fundraiser credibility,” she said. “I also think I need to support what I’m working for. They’re supporting me, and I’d like to help — it’s a wonderful place to work and it’s a great library.”
Most funding doesn’t come from community pocket change. The big money comes from sources such as the current Kresge grant, and individuals like those lauded in the names of seven of UCSC’s 10 residential colleges.
William Ackerknecht is a more recent donor, and his gift of $100,000 funded the oak garden planted in the library courtyard. His wife was the benefactor of a McHenry contemporary fiction collection. Ackerknecht pledged money for the garden as a memorial to her memory.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Acherknecht said, “because the university kind of stalled on the garden, and they didn’t have the funding at that time. It’s a very nice attraction, for all people in the university to enjoy the outside and be able to use the library’s resources.”
Cowell Student Council member Faeza Kazi has seen a lot of money pass through her hands, and she said that her only wish was that the money was spent in a productive way.
“I know the Student Union Assembly recently found $72,000 just hiding in one of their accounts,” Kazi said. “What’s important is spending in an unbiased manner, and the promotion of student orgs and student events and any activity that isn’t just something the administration wants.”
Kazi said that in a public school the state should foot most of the bills. She advocates stronger pressure on the government and less reliance on outside sources.
“We shouldn’t need donations to get our ends met,” Kazi said. “But it’s always good to get money for education.”
When state funding and student fees together cover only about 80 percent of university needs, fundraising is critical to diversifying the campus, von Soosten said.
“We raised $30 million altogether last year on campus to support the operations here, to support scholarships to students, to support faculty, to support collections, to support equipment,” von Soosten said. “There are also research grants that come to us. We would be much less of a campus if we didn’t have the private support.”