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By Patrick Szpak

Associate News

Passing the plate is proving to be a lucrative means of raising funds for Ryerson after years of decreasing support from the provincial and federal governments.

For the second year running VP university advancement Adam Kahan announced that Ryerson reached its multi-million dollar goal from donors.

Kahan presented an interim report on fundraising in February to the university’s board of governors. The report detailed how Kahan’s department for university advancement had already met its fundraising target of $14 million two months before the end of the fiscal year.

Kahan said that money raised goes to what he calls the “quality edge” of Ryerson – bursaries, scholarships, high-profile guest lecturers and fancy expensive equipment, such as FCAD’s high-definition labs that may otherwise be out of financial reach. The money comes from all sources that chose to give to the university, including alumni, individuals and corporations, among others said Kahan.

The $14 million compliments other claimed successes – including a burgeoning $45 million endowment fund, increasing applications, and Ryerson’s ongoing branding and marketing campaign, which will see the university adopt a new and allegedly more recognizable “RU” logo to adorn its buildings.

Ryerson’s fundraising and endowments are still relatively modest compared to other Canadian universities. While ahead of similarly-sized Concordia University’s $30.1 million endowment, it’s far behind the University of Guelph’s $164.2 million and miniscule next to the University of Toronto’s $1.68 billion endowment with more than $75 million raised this year.

Kahan said the successes were relatively quickly achieved, “we only really got started in 2000,” he said adding that “I think we professionalized it significantly” over Ryerson’s previous communications department.

Kahan, whose 2005 salary was reported at $290,494, said his department of university advancement has a budget of $6.5 million (for comparison sports and recreation has a budget of $1.3 million), which Kahan stressed encompassed events such as Winter Carnival, almost all university publications in addition to its marketing, recruiting and fundraising costs. “Everytime you see something with a Ryerson logo, it’s from this department,” he said.

Ryerson’s relatively new fundraising and marketing matches a Canada-wide trend among universities seeking to increase revenue, compete for students and gain brand recognition.

James Turk, the executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers(CAUT), says that Canadian Universities are advertising and fundraising more now thanks to government cutbacks to post-secondary education that began in the late 1970s and continued to the present.

Turk said fundraising is one way that universities are seeking to makeup for these lost funds, the other, and according to him much more significant way, is increasing tuition for students.

Turk said that endowments and fundraising in Canada is “peanuts” compared to the “big-boys” in the United States where favourable tax laws and long traditions of giving have created endowments in the tens of billions for some schools.

“Fundraising can be a supplement, but it will never replace government funding,” Turk said.

Statistics Canada reports that in 2004 student tuition accounted for 20 per cent of Canadian university finances compared to only 10 per cent in 1991. In 2006, student tuition accounted for 39 per cent of Ryerson’s revenue.

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