Betting the farm

A very big gamble

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an extraordinary piece about how one investment manager gambled away $13.1 Million of her university’s money:
cash pile

Over a series of three contracts, Ms. Prizevoits signed over more than $8-million of the 96-year-old university’s money in 2008 to a Florida-based company called Betts and Gambles Global Equities LLC, to invest in collateralized-mortgage obligations. The founder of the company, federal-court documents state, instead spent part of the money on a Ferrari, a Maserati, and real estate.B y 2010, Ms. Prizevoits had become suspicious of the investments she had made with Betts and Gambles, documents state. Even so, she made another questionable investment on behalf of Ball State, sending $5-million to a California company, Blackhawk Wealth Solutions Inc., to invest in fixed-income securities called Treasury Strips. Much of that money flowed to another company, and was then used to buy a series of real-estate properties in the Bronx, N.Y.

Really does seem bizarre that anyone would do this and that they would manage to gamble away quite so much money without anyone noticing.

I would have thought through that the name of the company might have been a pointer to the problems to come: “Betts and Gambles Global Equities” should at least have raised an alarm bell?

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Needed: More Money, Money, Money

Higher Education needs more and better fundraising. And fundraisers

A new publication from HEFCE.on developing the HE fundraising workforce:

This report was commissioned by HEFCE to address one of the recommendations in ‘Review of Philanthropy in UK Higher Education: 2012 status report and challenges for the next decade’ (the Pearce report), specifically the future development and training needs of the higher education philanthropy workforce.

More please

More please

The 2012 report showed that investment in fundraising brings results whatever the size or type of university or college. If the success described in that report was to continue, it would be necessary to have a strong and growing group of educational fundraisers who are skilled in leading development teams and working with academics and institutional leaders.

This new review on the philanthropy workforce indicates the pool of professional fundraisers working in UK higher education is too small if the ambitious targets for the next decade are to be met.

In order to attract more people to become and remain educational fundraisers, there needs to be an attractive career structure and a shared understanding of the skills and knowledge-base required to be effective at different stages of that career. This issue has guided this report: what should a career path in educational fundraising look like and how can we retain the best people?

The evidence in this review of the fundraising workforce is intended to address those questions. The arguments in favour of developing a long term view which will provide the staffing required are undeniable but nevertheless it will be challenging to deliver.

I also thought the point made about developing the next generation of fundraisers was particularly important:

Internship schemes (notably the HEFCE-supported CASE graduate traineeships) are working well as entry points and could be extended to a wider range of institutions. Top student callers, who learn their craft on university “phonathons”, are an excellent source of fundraising talent, as are others who carry out student work in development offices.

 
The numbers involved in the CASE graduate traineeship scheme remain small though and there is also a role for the Ambitious Futures programme, the wider graduate training scheme for higher education in the UK, for contributing to the development of this future pipeline of fundraising staff.

It’s an important report.

‘University of Nike’ in Oregon

A huge investment in university sport.

 

The New York Times has a report on the opening of a hugely expensive new facility to enhance the University of Oregon’s football programme. It comes courtesy of a sizeable donation from one of the founders of Nike.

The Football Performance Center, which was unveiled publicly this week, is as much country club as football facility, potentially mistaken for a day spa, or an art gallery, or a sports history museum, or a spaceship — and is luxurious enough to make N.F.L. teams jealous. It is, more than anything, a testament to college football’s arms race, to the billions of dollars at stake and to the lengths that universities will go to field elite football programs.

The performance center was paid for through a donation from Phil Knight, a founder of Nike, an Oregon alumnus and a longtime benefactor of the university. During a tour of the complex Wednesday, university officials declined to give a dollar figure, even a ballpark one, insisting they did not know the total cost of a football center where even the garbage cans were picked with great care to match the overall design. (Early design estimates placed the center’s cost at $68 million, which, based on the tour, seemed conservative.)

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The tour lasted more than three hours and covered the full 145,000 square feet of the complex (with 60,000 additional square feet of parking). Nike and its relationship with Oregon are obvious early and throughout. One small logo outside the Ducks’ locker room featured the university’s mascot, wearing a top hat adorned with a dollar sign. Oregon football is often viewed through that lens by outsiders, who derisively have christened Oregon as Nike University.

A video is available here which gives a flavour of this extraordinary facility. The characterisation of the college football competition as an arms race seems particularly apposite. This level of investment for just one sport at a university is breathtaking.

Go Ducks!

Some Vice-Chancellors will do anything for money…

…provided it’s for a good cause

A bit late in the day but I did want to register how impressive this fundraising effort is from the Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University. The video, which is intended to raise money for LOROS and PROSTaid, features over 1,000 students from DMU too and can be seen here:

Further details can be found on the DMU website.

And it has recently been confirmed that a team led by the University of Nottingham’s Vice-Chancellor has raised over £250k:

After cycling the length of Britain this summer, the Life Cycle 2 team from The University of Nottingham have successfully raised over £250,000 to widen access to higher education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Life cycle 2
The total raised was a fitting reward for the 12 members of staff who endured headwinds, punctures and falls during a 1,100-mile journey on behalf of ‘Nottingham Potential’, a package of interventions designed to transform the lives of young people.

Led by Vice-Chancellor Professor David Greenaway, the team spent 14 days in the saddle, with the specific aim of providing scholarships and bursaries to students from disadvantaged backgrounds and supporting projects targeted at changing opportunities for young people, helping more into further and higher education.

For some you suspect that two weeks on a bike might be preferable to seeking to emulate Professor Shellard’s performance but in any case it is, I think, really impressive to see Vice-Chancellors taking a lead on this kind of fundraising activity.

(PS not quite such an achievement but worthy of note – this is the landmark 600th post here on Registrarism – thank you for reading.)

Rich celebrations

Two ceremonies to celebrate the achievements of Dr Tony Rich

I was privileged to attend two ceremonies in February to celebrate the achievements of Tony Rich, formerly Registrar and Secretary at the University of Essex and a mentor to me for nearly 20 years. The first event was the naming of a new teaching centre at the University:

The Tony Rich Teaching Centre

Entirely appropriate given Tony’s passionate commitment to teaching and learning. The naming was followed by a wonderful ceremony further celebrating his life and work and culminating in the award of an Honorary Doctorate.

Honorary degree award

It was a really special and poingnant event and great to see such a big turnout including many former colleagues from Essex, friends and family, a number of Vice-Chancellors and Registrars and lots of people from the Colchester and the region.

As another attendee pointed out to me, universities really do this kind of event extremely well. It had just the right mix of formality, seriousness and pomp combined with informality and personal touches.

The oration paid testament not only to Tony’s career and particularly his 12 years at Essex where he had led and contributed to significant change but also his major contribution to the educational, cultural and sporting life of the town, county and region over many years. It was an outstanding list of achievements.

Among those present was Jonathan Nicholls who is raising money for the University of Bristol’s Cancer Research Fund in honour of Tony:

The London Marathon will take on an extra-special meaning for one Bristol alumnus as he aims to complete the gruelling 26 mile course in honour of the University of Bristol’s recently retired Registrar Dr Tony Rich, who is battling the disease.

Dr Jonathan Nicholls (BA 1978) has already raised nearly £10,000 in sponsorship for his efforts, which were prompted by the heartbreaking diagnosis that his close friend Dr Rich has incurable cancer.

Dr Nicholls, who works as Cambridge University’s Registrary, will be joining seven other Bristol alumni runners who are raising money for Bristol University’s Cancer Research Fund, which supports vital research into cancer prevention and treatment.

He and Dr Rich first met as administrators at the University of Warwick in the 1980s and have been close friends ever since.

Dr Rich started work as Registrar and Chief Operating Officer at the University of Bristol at the end of the 2010/11 academic year, having previously worked as the Registrar and Secretary of the University of Essex since 1999, but retired recently due to ill health.

He is now asking friends and colleagues to support Dr Nicholls as he prepares to conquer the world-famous marathon on 22 April.

Jonathan’s sponsorship page is here. Do please support him.

Overall a wonderful event celebrating an outstanding individual.

Nottingham Advantage

Impact Campaign: Nottingham Advantage

Another update on the Impact Campaign which has launched this week at the University of Nottingham.

This theme, Nottingham Advantage, is one which I think is particularly important. On this site you can see a nice video, fronted by Vicky Mann who heads up the Nottingham Advantage Award, all about how the University is helping our graduates who need more than academic knowledge and skills to stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive global job market.

Will you help promote the employability of our graduates?

The issue

Competition in the global employment market is fiercer than ever. Employers expect much more from prospective graduate recruits than a good degree. Taking part in extra-curricular activities encourages students to develop a range of skills, such as leadership, organisation, communication and teamwork – great preparation for the world of work and a way to stand out from the crowd.

Our solution

The Nottingham Advantage Award offers students the chance to develop the competencies, learning and evaluation skills that employers seek in graduates. Launched in 2008, the Award is voluntary and is open to students at our UK, China and Malaysia campuses.

Students choose modules, which focus on developing key attributes, such as oral and written communication, teamwork, self management and learner autonomy, problem solving and critical thinking, commercial awareness, information technology and numeracy, environmental citizenship and employability and a global perspective.

The emphasis upon reflective practice is built into all modules and allows students to develop greater self-awareness and techniques for self-improvement. Over 75% of the modules are delivered in collaboration with employers, helping students to associate academic learning with the professional context of the global employment market.

Our impact

The Nottingham Advantage Award provides formal recognition of the student’s employability skills, promoting them as flexible, adaptable employees of the future to support their transition into the global job market.

What will your Impact be?

Supporting the Nottingham Advantage Award will have a genuine impact on the success of our students in today’s fiercely competitive global job market. Do support the Impact Campaign.

Impact : Academic Excellence

The Impact Campaign at the University of Nottingham – Delivering Academic Excellence

 

A previous post reported on the launch of the Impact Campaign. Now we’re into a bit more of the detail about why the campaign is important and how our academic excellence has been constantly enriched by philanthropy. Part of Impact: The Nottingham Campaign is about how we can extend our academic excellence through the funding of new academic posts that will enhance research, teaching and the transfer of knowledge.

New funding will make a tangible and lasting difference to our work. Two examples where philanthropy could enhance the academic excellence are in the creation of new Chairs – a Chair in Business History and a Chair in Jewish Studies:

Chair in Business History

The Issue

Historical case studies inform us about today’s business environment, in terms of dealing with crises (financial and otherwise), networking and environmental impact. The UK and East Midlands have many under-used sources, and the University wishes to create a dedicated resource to address this.

Our Solution

The creation of a Chair in Business History and development of a co-ordinated research group around it will provide expert leadership and momentum in drawing together and driving forward existing and new historical research and teaching at Nottingham. This will broaden our understandings of business history in a regional, national and international context.

Our Impact

Through independent and collaborative research and teaching, the Chair in Business History will drive forward new research on the history of business, and disseminate that knowledge to have an impact on understanding today’s – and the future – business environment.

 

 

Chair in Jewish Studies

The Issue

The University has consistently been a leader in the study of Christianity and Christian theology, and Islamic Studies has for more than a quarter of a century been an area of teaching and research here. Jewish Studies has had a less consistent presence. The University wishes to strengthen and ensure continuity of its teaching and research in this area.

The Solution

The creation of a Chair in Jewish Studies and the development of a co-ordinated research group around it will provide the leadership and momentum to draw together and drive forward world-class research and teaching in Jewish Studies at Nottingham.

Our Impact

By attracting a top flight scholar of Jewish Studies to a Chair in one of the UK’s best-known and most dynamic Theology and Religious Studies Departments, we will secure teaching and research in this area, and enhance the profile of Jewish Studies in Britain as a whole.

These are really important developments for the University. More details can be found here on Academic Excellence at the University of Nottingham. Please do support the Impact Campaign.

Launch of the Impact Campaign at the University of Nottingham

The Impact Campaign launches today at the University

 


 

A rather different focus here on the blog for the next few days. The University of Nottingham is launching a significant and important campaign today:

About the campaign:

By helping us to raise £150 million over the next five years you will be supporting a series of high-impact projects on the local, national and global stage.

Across five campaign themes these projects will have a positive and lasting influence on society. We want to make an impact that will touch generations. So join with us and contribute to securing an ambitious and sustainable future.

 

The campaign is key to the long term ambitions of the University in looking to deliver outstanding research outputs, impactful knowledge transfer and the best possible experience for our students. I’m enormously proud to be a supporter of the campaign and to be part of this important development at the University. It should be a great launch week.

More details can be found on the Impact campaign site.

Trouble with names

Or the importance of having a proper naming policy

So could it happen here? Fascinating story this about Tsinghua University naming a teaching building after a donor. Except the donor is a clothes brand:

China’s prestigious Tsinghua University has triggered heated debates one month after its 100th anniversary of founding as it has named one teaching building after a well-known clothes brand.

The university came to the spotlight on Tuesday after a picture of the building’s new name was posted online. People blamed the university for “selling itself” and the incident was labeled as the “falling of the spirit of universities,” while others said it was normal for campus buildings to be named after a donor.

The No.4 teaching building of Tsinghua, built in 1987, is dedicated with shining Chinese and English characters of “Jeanswest Building,” following a line saying that Jeanswest, as a leading company of casual clothes, has contributed its share to the nation’s education.

So, Jeanswest Building does sound a bit better than the No.4 teaching building. But not much. And it does beg questions about how far a university might go in offering naming rights in return for a decent donation. Whilst the University of Poppleton has probably led the way in the recent past (actually I’m guessing it has a number of buildings named after popular pork-based products), might we expect the Confused.com learning resources building or the Kwik Save Student Services Centre at a UK campus someday soon?

Sing Sing – fundraising for Mamelodi

Sing Sing

Selina Mwenifumbo and Shaunna Francis, two pupils at Nottingham University Samworth Academy, have written, recorded and released this song to raise money for the Mamelodi Trust in South Africa. It’s available for download on iTunes for 79p and every penny will go to the Mamelodi Trust, which raises money for schools in the squatter camps in Mamelodi, near Pretoria. All money raised by the end of July will be match-funded by the University Development Office.

The NUSA pupils were commissioned to produce the single by The University of Nottingham’s Academy Project Unit which co-ordinates a range of academic and social links between the school and University departments. The University has long-established links with South Africa through its School of Education, which fundraises for Mamelodi and operates a graduate teacher placement scheme in the township.

Mamelodi is a former black township with a population of about one million people on the north eastern outskirts of Pretoria. Many people in this area live in small brick-built homes, but there are also huge makeshift settlements where people, many of whom are refugees from neighbouring Zimbabwe, have built their own shacks from corrugated iron and plastic sheets. Apartheid was responsible for starving the townships of decent quality education, allowing extreme poverty, high unemployment and a whole range of socio-economic problems which will take many years to eradicate.

Further details here and preview of Sing Sing and download available here. It is well worth buying.

Valentine’s special: “Top 10 Most Loved Schools”

A top 10 of colleges with the highest percentages of alumni donors according to US News and World Report:

Webb Institute 70.9

Carleton College 61.3

Princeton University 60.3

Middlebury College 60.1

Amherst College 59.5

Williams College 57.6

Centre College 56.7 4

Indiana Institute of Technology 55.1

Davidson College 54

Thomas Aquinas College 52.5

Although these don’t give an indication of the value of donations this does represent an extraordinary level of engagement of alumni. Especially when you think that for most UK universities the figure is below 2%. These really are well-loved institutions.