The new Vice Chancellor, Ghauth Jasmon has an unenviable task of taking over as the head of University of Malaya. His job is made more difficult by the fact that University of Malaya was not chosen by the Malaysian government as an apex university. In the exercise of choosing the apex university, UM was pipped by USM. The apex university status is especially crucial because it comes with extra funding. In this era, lack of funding usually spells disaster for an institute of higher education as the institution cannot afford to recruit the best and brightest staff and also foot the costs of labs and cutting edge research.
So is this the death knell of UM as the premier institution in Malaysia? It does seem so. Without the extra funding, it is inevitable that USM will overtake UM. The Vice Chancellor, Ghauth Jasmon needs to do something really drastic to turn things around.
One idea is to think out of the box. If the government will not fund UM adequately, Ghauth Jasmon should think of going to the alumni to raise funds. Of course, you can’t start asking alumni for money out of the blue. UM should begin by building a competent alumni office headed by someone with good contacts. Efforts of reconnecting with alumni must be made. An attractive and credible alumni magazine needs to be published; class reunions should be held. The alumni office should then approach the alumni members for donations. Alumni especially older ones are usually generous during class reunions when they recall the good old days. I am sure that many UM alumni would donate generously to their alma mater if the rallying cry for the donation is to keep UM as the premier institution in the country. Judging from the experience of the Singaporean universities like Nanyang and NUS, the task of fund raising is difficult but not impossible. Perhaps, ‘a rombongan sambil belajar’ across the causeway should be made soon?
In Asia, American-Style Fund Raising Takes Off The Chronicle of Higher Education December 5, 2008 Friday
Copyright 2008 The Chronicle of Higher Education
All Rights Reserved
The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 5, 2008 Friday
SECTION: INTERNATIONAL; Pg. 22 Vol. 55 No. 15
LENGTH: 2003 words
HEADLINE: In Asia, American-Style Fund Raising Takes Off
BYLINE: MARTHA ANN OVERLAND
Until last month, the development office at Nanyang Technical University was hidden away in a forgotten part of the sprawling Singaporean campus. The building was dated and the air-conditioning was cranky — a description that could also have summed up the university’s fund-raising efforts and its alumni.
Marina Tan Harper, director of the university’s brand-new development office, toiled in obscurity with her tiny staff. Few understood what the American fund raiser had been hired to do. Even fewer thought raising money from alumni made any sense. After all, in 2005, the year Ms. Harper was hired, just 143 out of 90,000 alumni had made contributions to their alma mater.
“Singapore is very first world, but the funding for universities is very third world,” says Ms. Harper, referring to the reliance on the government to finance higher education. “Literally, the concepts have to be taught.”
Teaching alumni why they need to give — and making giving easy to do — is what Ms. Harper set out to accomplish. And last year more than 4,000 graduates opened their checkbooks, helping the university raise $27-million, largely for its endowment. No one is asking what a development office does anymore.
This month the director, who used to run the development office at Northern Kentucky University, moved her staff of 21 out of their old digs and into the newest building on the campus. Today they sit at brand new desks working shiny new phones. Here at the heart of the campus, the air-conditioning never breaks down, and it is always a perfect 69.8 degrees.
Nanyang is just one of dozens of Asian universities adopting American-style fund raising. The institutions are opening development offices, hiring professional fund raisers, investing in slick billion-dollar campaigns, and trotting out their presidents to pass the hat, tactics unknown here a decade ago.