Columbia solidifies fundraising plans for expansion

By The Columbia Chronicle

Columbia’s Board of Trustees recently voted at their October meeting to proceed with plans to begin a capital campaign to raise funds to acquire more space for Columbia’s expected growth in the coming years.

According to Woodie White, vice-president of College Relations and Development, Columbia’s goal is to raise between 15 and 20 million dollars initially to purchase more space in Chicago’s South Loop area. White said that the South Loop is growing due to Columbia’s prominent presence (Columbia is currently the largest landowner in the South Loop).

“In the past, Columbia has relied on real estate loans and raising student’s tuition to achieve the financial goals of the school. Now, for the first time, Columbia’s trustees have agreed to build and solicit a prospect list of private businesses, major corporations, foundations, and private citizens for donations for Columbia to expand,” said White

White stressed, “Columbia is the least expensive private college in Illinois and our goal is to maintain that distinction.” In order for tuition to remain affordable, Columbia must raise money another way, White said.

For example, Columbia has recently purchased a building at 1306 S. Michigan Avenue which will become the new home of Columbia’s Dance Center. Money is needed to support this building and others Columbia will be acquiring in the future. Columbia’s President, John B. Duff, determined that a capital campaign would be the solution to Columbia’s financial predicament.

The capital campaign will begin in a few months as a quiet campaign, meaning there will not be any advance publicity. White said Columbia does not want to announce any specific buildings being considered for fear it will raise prices or encourage competitions. However,

Mayor Richard M. Daley has agreed to be the honorary chairperson of the capital campaign committee.

According to Mark Kelly, Associate Provost of Planning, Columbia needs to acquire 370,000 square feet of new space over the next 10 years. This space will be able to accommodate the projected growth expected and allow the school to improve quality of life issues for students. Kelly said, “More room to expand will help define the nature of the college and impd student union.”

Kelly’s office is using two documents as management tools to define and direct the needs of Columbia. Kelly said his office is issuing a Space Needs Analysis report next week that will outline which departments have the most need for additional space. In addition, an outside architectural firm (Lobel, Schlossman, and Hack) was hired last year to produce a Master Facilities Plan to determine the space needs of the school.

Kelly said the firm met with trustees, staff and students of Columbia to determine how it will proceed with the acquisition of space. Most importantly, Kelly said, “The firm is also looking into a way to bring the different buildings together to create a sense of campus and community.”

Columbia currently has 8,834 students and based on the school’s historical growth, Kelly projects that Columbia will have 11,854 students by the year 2008. He believes that without the Capital Campaign, Columbia will not be able to keep tuition affordable in the future or be able to provide the types of facilities that students have come to expect.

“In 1988, there was 60 square feet for every student. In 1997, we improved that ratio to 72 to 1. Our projected goal for 2008 is 87 square feet for every student,” said Kelly This would constitute a 50 percent improvement of the physical environment for Columbia’s students over the last 20 years.