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By Carmen Chai

The number of alumni donors are falling fast, says the associate VP of university planning.

Paul Stenton told the Board of Governors on Jan. 28 there’s been about a five per cent drop in alumni donors in the past five years.

But Bob Baker, executive director of university advancement, argues the number of alumni donors has been increasing every year.

In 2005, 4,232 alumni donated $562,747 and by 2006, 4,792 alumni donated $611,853. Baker’s projected figures for 2007 increase to 5,500 alumni donating a total of $700,400.

“We anticipate this to be our best year for annual fund support from our alumni,” Baker said. “Like any business, we’re measuring our year over year revenues. It’s very simple: the number of donors this year versus donors last year.”

Stenton was unavailable for comment. Baker is not concerned with Stenton’s report. He said that since planning officers follow the Maclean’s survey of Canadian universities, Stenton’s methodology may be misleading.

“They could be looking at each year, giving a five-year average with different denominators.”

Baker thinks it’s because of the school’s effort to reach out to alumni that donations have gone up every year.

He says the development office has given graduates more opportunities to donate through mail, calls or e-mails.

“I have no concerns about the direction that our alumni fundraising are going. It’s going up. The report causes me no concern,” Baker said. “Ryerson is going to be able to do great things in the future due to this private support and this is primarily coming from alumni.”

Anthony Biglieri who graduated from Ryerson’s urban planning program in 1983 said that he’s seen more alumni become active recently, but isn’t sure if that translates into donations.

Events 10 years ago would draw 40 people, while now they draw 400, he said.

“We see more Ryerson grads now at events,” he said. “That’s the whole purpose, to bring people back to the school.”

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