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Fund-Raising at UCLA

May 30, 1996

* Recently, you magnified the tiny number of applicants admitted to UCLA because of favoritism from those who might help the university. Now you published a front-page expose on UCLA's fund-raising activities (May 23).

I am a chancellor's associate because of a moderate annual gift. In my experience, UCLA's approach has been very low-key and less intrusive than most other charities. It is therefore hard to understand why this subject is newsworthy.

GIL BEZAR

Laguna Beach

* As a UCLA graduate student, I do not understand the reason for your continued attacks on fund-raising by the University of Californa system.

By criminalizing gifts to our universities, The Times does a disservice to the people of California and at the same time undermines its own editorial stance on education. Your strong and frequent editorials in favor of school funding and affirmative action indicate your belief in an open education system. Why, then, do you revile private individuals when they act to make such a system possible?

In an ideal world, public schools would not have to raise funds from private sources. In such a world, we'd have a governor, state Legislature and taxpaying public committed to providing whatever funds were required to maintain excellence in our schools. Before we achieve that world, we rely on the commitment of private donors and university development staff to meet the fiscal requirements of a public education. What your articles have revealed is that many people give of themselves to public universities through large and small donations of their time and money. We as students, and we as citizens, all benefit from their largess.

JOY YU CHEN

Los Angeles

* It is ironic that Column One continued your assault on UCLA's fund-raising procedures, while an article in the Business section (May 23) advised that last year's U.S. total charitable giving successes were only temporary and that longer-term strategies were needed. That is what UCLA has attempted to do with the recent $45-million gift, which is the result of "more than 10 years" of cultivation.

What is remarkable is that UCLA is ranked among the top five in most academic disciplines, but ranks only 22nd in total gifts secured, and only 47th in the ratio of dollars collected per student of major U.S. universities!

The motivation behind the latest UCLA-centered article is puzzling. Is it to undermine the absolutely essential fund-raising from private sources to ensure the academic mission of Los Angeles' premier public university? Future efforts may well be in jeopardy by disclosures from confidential donor prospect files. Will development staff be unable or unwilling to enter critical information because of potential future disclosures?

MARILYN BRAINARD

Agoura Hills

* While I obviously do not know the details of Paul and Gloria Griffin's finances, I think it is a pity that when a longtime, loyal and trustworthy donor falls upon difficult financial times, that their names must be removed from a designated site. While it is true that some major donors to charities sometimes pledge with a lack of sincerity and then renege on pledges, this does not appear to be the situation. It just seems that this adds injury to an already difficult situation for a donor.

ESTHER KRISMAN

Los Angeles

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