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Millions pour in to move USF to goal: $220-million

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University of South Florida officials announced a record $220-million fund-raising goal Thursday, then happily said they are almost halfway there.

About $107-million has been pledged or collected for scholarships, endowed chairs, new programs and new buildings.

The easiest $1-million came unsolicited, delivered over the phone one day to a flabbergasted USF President Betty Castor.

The rest, university officials said, required more than two years of careful planning and dogged pursuit.

The All Children's Hospital Foundation has agreed to donate $13.2-million for pediatrics research.

Fred Wright, a Fort Myers construction magnate, is giving $5-million to subsidize the medical care of needy patients.

Joy Culverhouse, the widow of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse, is giving $7.6-million to establish a breast cancer center.

"When you think of the Tampa Bay community, at the core is the University of South Florida," said Tampa developer Hinks Shimberg, who is donating $1-million to establish an endowment in the Health Sciences Library. "No matter which way you go _ economic development, culture, sports _ the university is a prime catalyst."

While the big givers received most of the attention Thursday, a fund-raising drive of this magnitude _ the largest in USF's history _ involves tens of thousands of donations.

Some are as small as $25. Last year, officials said, USF processed more than 80,000 individual gifts.

Several hundred prominent donors attended a dinner Thursday night hosted by USF. At an earlier news conference, Castor said the university has no shortage of uses for their money.

The goals for the campaign, which continues until 2001, include raising $60-million for new programs and $50-million to endow chairs and professorships. The university hopes to collect $40-million for student scholarships.

Much of that money will be eligible for matching state funds.

"This will be difficult to achieve . . . but we really have no alternative," Castor said. "We must increase our endowment for scholarships if we want to compete for the best students. We must increase our endowed chairs if we want to compete for the top scholars."

Officials say universities and colleges have become increasingly dependent on private gifts to patch holes in budgets left by cuts in state and federal support.

Castor said that is especially true at USF and other Florida universities.

Ten years ago, Florida subsidized more than half of USF's total budget. By last year, she said, state support had dwindled to about 40 percent.

USF's latest efforts have raised its endowment to $153-million, an almost five-fold increase since 1989.

While generosity has had much to do with the increase, so has the booming stock market, which produced sizable returns for USF investments.

USF now has the second-largest endowment in Florida's university system, behind the University of Florida. (USF remains far behind most of the nation's elite schools. Harvard University, for example, boasts a $9-billion endowment.)

Although officially unveiled Thursday, USF's campaign has been ongoing for more than two years. It is called the "quiet phase," a period in which officials work to collect as many gifts and pledges as possible.

USF's fund-raising apparatus is divided into several parts. There is the annual fund, which relies heavily on telephone solicitations aimed at alumni. There is the corporate arm, which tries to convince local companies that it is in their interest to establish a relationship with USF because the university will train many of their future employees.

Some of USF's largest donations are coming from corporations. TECO Energy Inc. is giving $1-million toward construction of a new engineering building.

The St. Petersburg Times is giving $1-million. The largest portion of the gift will fund undergraduate scholarships for exceptional students. Money also will go to USF's marine sciences program, including an eminent scholar lecture series, the Marine Science Camp for Girls and the Jack Lake Fellowship. Lake is a former publisher of the Times.

The most important fund-raising component for USF is the soliciting of individual donors. Castor estimates she spends at least one-fourth of her time trying to land major gifts. Donors who are considering handing over large amounts of money usually want to get to know the person in charge first.

But not always.

USF officials love to tell the story of Dorothy Benjamin, a 94-year-old Clearwater woman who called Castor's office one day to say she would like to make a $1-million contribution. She said she wanted to give her money to a school with a female president.

Her donation will be used to establish an endowment for research in ophthalmology, dermatology and Alzheimer's disease.

"I wish they were all that easy," said Kathy Stafford, USF's vice president for university advancement.

The million-dollar club

Here is a list of the individuals and companies that have donated $1-million or more to the University of South Florida's largest-ever fund-raising campaign:


ALL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL FOUNDATION - $13.2-million to establish the Robert Good Endowed Chair in Pediatrics; the Maury and Thelma Rothman Chair in Developmental Pediatrics; the Eleanor Naylor Dana Foundation Fellowship; the Andrews/Daicoff Chair in Pediatric Cardiovascular Research; to enhance the Andrew and Ann Hines Chair in Pediatrics and the Sheppard Foundation Fellowship; and to construct a pediatric research facility on the St. Petersburg campus.

JOY MCCANN CULVERHOUSE - $7.6-million to establish the Joy McCann Culverhouse Breast Cancer Center, the Culverhouse Center for Esophageal Disorders, and the Culverhouse Professorship in Allergy and Immunology.

ROGER AND BARBARA MONSOUR - $5-million to establish an endowed scholarship in medicine.

FRED WRIGHT - $5-million to establish a research and clinical care fund for needy patients requiring expensive or experimental medical procedures.

HINKS AND ELAINE SHIMBERG - $1-million to establish an endowment in the Health Sciences Library and expand access to library resources to the greater medical community.

AMY AND JIM SHIMBERG - $1-million to support teaching and research in the College of Medicine.

THE ST. PETERSBURG TIMES - $1-million to endow the Jack Lake Fellowship in Marine Science, support the Oceanography Camp for Girls, establish the St. Petersburg Times scholarship for minority teachers, endow the Nelson Poynter Fellows Program, establish the St. Petersburg Times scholarship for academically-talented students, and support the Nelson Poynter Library, the Tampa campus Library and the St. Petersburg campus.

RUTH R. KOSOVE - $2-million to establish the A. Harrison and Ruth Kosove Endowed Scholarship and the Kosove Scholars Society.

FRED AND HELEN THARP - $1.6-million to establish the Fred and Helen Tharp Endowed Scholarship in mathematics and science.

EDWARD B. ROOD - $1-million to support the inaguration of intercollegiate football at USF.

TECO ENERGY INC. - $1-million toward construction of a new engineering building.

DOROTHY BENJAMIN - $1-million to establish an endowment for research in ophthalmalogy, dermatology and Alzheimer's disease

JACK AND ALICE RICHARDSON - $1-million to eastablish the Laurie Ann Richardson Scholarship and the Cathy Lynne Richardson Scholarship in special education in the College of Education.

CARL KUNZ - $1-million to fund an endowed scholarship in the College of Engineering.

Source: University of South Florida

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