GCM begins fundraising campaign

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By Renata D’Aliesio

A year-and-a-half ago, GCM’s chair Mary Black marched into a meeting of her advisory committee and announced her multi-million dollar dream.

“I want to build a building for the school,” she told the 17 executives from the country’s top printing and publishing companies. They voiced their support immediately.

In March, the school of graphic communications management (GCM) began the quiet phase of its $5 million to $8 million fundraising campaign. The phase, which will involved five months of arm-twisting and nudging wealth friends in the industry, is expected to raise half of GCM’s goal. The money is planned to be put toward the construction of a building to house the school, which occupies little more than a hallway in the basement of South Kerr Hall.

“We have 7,000 square feet of space and we need about 29,000 square feet for the program,” said Black, who’s been chair for three years.

A site for the building, which Black says is expected to be complete in the year 2001, hasn’t been chosen. Three possible locations include the parking lot on the corner of Church and Gould Streets, and Ryerson’s two unoccupied buildings at 297 Victoria St., which housed CJRT, and 112-114 Bond St., the former early childhood education building.

“The university wants [the building] built at 112 Bond St.,” said Kenzie Thompson, GCM’s campaign director, “but that would mean a multi-storey building with no room for expansion. Mary [Black] prefers the parking lot at Church.”

Ryerson rents the one-acre parking lot to Canada Auto Parks for $300,000 a year.

During the quiet phase, GCM hopes to raise half of its fundraising goal, which will be finalized in June. The school plans to launch the campaign publicly in September.

“We need to test the waters first,” said Thompson, who worked as an assistant director in Carleton University’s development and alumni services office for 16 years. “The donors will dictate whether we build a $7 million building or a $5 million building.”

But before the brochures can be printed and the press conferences planned, GCM needs to find a chair for their campaign and organize a group of 30 volunteers — prominent senior executives from the industry. Thompson and Black are waiting for a reply from a leader of one of the 17 companies that sit on GCM’s advisory committee who they have asked to be chair. The minimum donation to the campaign expected from the chair is $1 million.

GCM’s initiative is Ryerson’ first major campaign since 1993 when the school raised $37.9 million in a campus-wide effort. But the school isn’t ready to commit to a university-wide campaign yet, said Ian Marlatt, director of public affairs and marketing communications. He said the university is looking into the option.

If Ryerson is to embark on such a campaign, it first has to conduct a survey to find out if there are potential donors willing to contribute significant monies, said Bill Hallett, the owner of a consulting firm hired by Ryerson to assess its readiness for a major fundraising campaign.

“GCM’s campaign will help stimulate a university-wide campaign it that’s the direction Ryerson decides to go,” he said. “It’s so competitive to go on a campaign at the university level. You have to make sure everything is properly cultivated and ready to go.”

It would take anywhere from 18 to 24 months before Ryerson could publicly launch the campaign.

The University of Toronto has been on a fundraising campaign since May, 1995. The university is already more than $10 million above its $400 million goal and is expected to set a new target soon.

As Ryerson continues to weigh its fundraising options,t he school of retail management is evaluating its fundraising feasibility study. Hallett said the school will decide in the coming weeks whether it will organize a campaign. The school of hospitality and tourism management is also looking into conduction a feasibility study.

GCM expects to complete its campaign in December.

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