UC Irvine raised more than $21 million in private donations during the past academic year, setting a record for gifts to the relatively young campus.
"We think these donations show we're competitive with the older, major universities," said John Miltner, vice chancellor for university advancement at the 21-year-old institution.
Miltner's office will release a report this week on the record-breaking $21,555,000 in gifts UCI received in the 1986-87 academic year. "That is a 7% increase over the $20,167,000 we raised last year, and that year was also a record," he said.
The new record came as somewhat of a surprise to UCI officials, Miltner said. Although the campus has aggressively pursued fund raising this year, he said UCI had expected a decrease in contributions.
"We worried that donations would be down because globally there has been a concern about the impact of (federal income) tax reform," Miltner said. "Another worry we had is that last year, we had very large donations for the Bren Center and the Beckman Laser Institute, and there is no similar major project like those this year."
Miltner said that even before this year's record, UCI had been Orange County's top annual fund-raiser. "This new record apparently puts UCI even farther out in front," he said.
While donations to the Irvine campus covered a wide spectrum, the vice chancellor said more than half the money was donated for faculty research. "Research support for faculty (donations) rose from $7.3 million last year to $12.4 million this year," he said.
University officials also are pleased that the campus's emerging reputation as a center for scientific research was attracting funds from major eastern United States charities. As an example, Miltner cited a three-year grant by the Pew Trust of Philadelphia during the past year. That grant awards the Irvine campus $200,000 a year, with the money earmarked for research in clinical psychobiology.
"Another one we're really proud of is the $195,000 the Ford Foundation gave during the year to support undergraduate education (at UCI)," Miltner said. "Given all the focus on that topic, that's particularly pleasing."
He was referring to recent national studies that have been critical of undergraduate education and have called for more attention to the subject.
The vice chancellor offered two explanations for the recent surge in donations. "One is that the Irvine campus is becoming much more an important part of Orange County," Miltner said. "And second, I believe corporations are seeing UCI as a good investment in the future."