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Students are priority No. 1

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, center, is joined by student leaders at Monday's news conference announcing a campaign to raise more than $2 million in new endowments, enough to fund about 40 scholarships, fellowships or other awards per year. Second from left is Rebecca Sterling, president of the Associated Students of UCD. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

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From page A1 | December 04, 2012 | Leave Comment

The UC Davis Foundation on Monday trumpeted a new effort that will help some students and their families face an ever-steeper climb in tuition.

New donations of $25,000 or more made to support student scholarships will generate a contribution of $25,000 from a $1 million matching fund pooled by current and past foundation board members and UC Davis administrators.

Their goal: raise more than $2 million in new endowments, enough to fund about 40 scholarships, fellowships or other awards per year.

“There’s nothing more important than raising funds to help our students go to school,” said Chancellor Linda Katehi, who first announced the effort in September. “We all know that the UC system and our campus have had to endure very serious cuts from the state and our students have had to endure a very serious increase in tuition. Our students have suffered as they have tried to come to classes and make ends meet.”

The new fund will pay out $1,000 to student recipients right away. Ordinarily, endowments are invested for one year before earnings are distributed.

Once the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh finished playing the fight song at the Memorial Union event, the size of the battle ahead for the university’s supporters and students remained sobering:

* UCD’s state funds have been slashed by $150 million over the past four years. The campus faces a $48 million shortfall this budget year.

* For students, in-state tuition and fees at UCD have rocketed from $8,639 in 2008-09 to $13,877 for 2012-13.

Those hikes “have really been hitting home on every level, for undergraduates especially,” said Rebecca Sterling, president of the Associated Students of UC Davis, which runs a food pantry. The student-run organization We Are Aggie Pride provides emergency funds to students in need. Both are doing brisk business.

“There are students that face extreme debt, are placed out of their homes or are scrimping on meals,” Sterling said. “There are students that aren’t going (to that) extreme, but we have seen drastic changes in lifestyles. Almost every single student has at least one job — student don’t just not work anymore.

“Students are living in much higher numbers in homes and apartments in the city of Davis. You’re much more often seeing five to six students in one house.”

Sterling said each new scholarship will “have a make it or break it effect on a student.”

“Overall, we have a crisis in our education system,” she said. “It’s not going to be fixed through scholarships; it’s going to have to be a systematic, concrete, long-range plan. In the meantime, we need to help the students that are here.”

Jessica Liu, a senior from Irvine, said that receiving two scholarships set aside for human development majors has allowed her to remain active on campus and take extra preparatory courses for her planned jump to medical school next fall.

“It’s definitely opened a lot of opportunities,” she said. “I’ve been able to move forward with a lot of different projects by only working 10 hours a week, instead of taking on a second job.”

Donations to the scholarship fund will be counted toward the Campaign for UC Davis, which was launched in October 2010 with a goal of raising $1 billion by 2014. As of Dec. 2, more than 96,000 donors had committed more than $863 million.

Bruce Edwards, who chairs the nonprofit foundation’s board, said supporters of the university are “coming to grips” with the realities of the state’s decreased funding of higher education.

“You think it’s going to change and a white knight’s going to come and bail you out,” said Edwards, a 1960 UCD graduate and founder of the Los Gatos-based March Development Company. “I know that’s not going to happen, so more than ever we as alumni, parents, people who care about the university really have to increase our effort in philanthropy to make up for this revenue source that the state’s not providing.

“We’re going to become sort of a private-public university. We’re still going to keep our public mission, as a land-grant college, but we can’t keep raising tuition, so it’s going to have to come from people who graduated from here.”

Edwards estimated 6 to 8 percent of UCD alumni donate, compared to about 18 percent for private institutions.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said. “We’ve got to get the message out.”

Online: http://giving.ucdavis.edu

— Reach Cory Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter @cory_golden

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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