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Bona kicks off $90 million funding drive

St. Bonaventure University is well on its way to reaching the $90 million goal established for the most ambitious fund-raising campaign in school history.

The university quietly raised $57.7 million during the first five years of the campaign, which was publicly launched at a ceremony Friday on campus.

School officials plan to use the money to construct new campus facilities, provide more aid to students, and bolster the university's endowment.

"Any private college or university needs to be in a fairly constant capital-campaign mode," Sister Margaret Carney, school president, said in an interview.

School officials expect to reach the campaign's goal by 2008-09, when St. Bonaventure will celebrate its 150th birthday.

The "Anniversary Campaign for St. Bonaventure" is the first formal fund-raising effort begun by the school since a $25 million drive that ended in 1992.

This campaign is an attempt by St. Bonaventure to shore up the institution's finances. Income generated by an endowment can fill the gap between a school's tuition revenue and its aspirations, Carney said.

St. Bonaventure in 2003-04 had an endowment valued at $33.6 million. By comparison, Hamilton College had $486.5 million, Ithaca College had $162.7 million and Alfred University had $71.9 million, according to data from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Preparations for the campaign began five years ago under former President Robert J. Wickenheiser, Carney said.

The school had planned to publicly launch this campaign sometime in 2003. But a basketball recruiting scandal erupted, Wickenheiser was forced from office and the chairman of Bona's board of trustees, William E. Swan, killed himself.

The scandal forced officials to delay the campaign announcement, Carney said.

The campaign restarted under the Rev. Dominic V. Monti, Wickenheiser's interim replacement, and continued under Carney. "It's a lot of meeting and friend-making," she said.

The school worked with outside consultants to set the $90 million goal for the campaign, a figure based on past trends in giving and other factors.

St. Bonaventure has improved its fund-raising performance in recent years, an effort led by David P. Ferguson, vice president for university relations, and Andrea Trisciuzzi, associate vice president for development.

The school raised $10.6 million in 2002-03, $10.8 million in 2003-04 and $15.2 million in the last fiscal year.

Those figures include money raised as part of the anniversary campaign, notably several large contributions from members of the school's board of trustees.

Board members donated $11.2 million so far, according to the school, led by $4.34 million from Leslie C. Quick III, campaign chairman and former chairman of Fleet Securities.

"I think that Bonaventure has a place in this world. It was very good to me," Quick, an alumnus, said in an interview.

He added the campaign primarily is intended to improve the quality of a Bona education.

The school plans to use money raised in the campaign to offer more financial aid, in an effort to improve diversity in the student body and to make sure students from low-income backgrounds can attend the university.

Also, St. Bonaventure plans to use some of the money to boost efforts to bring top faculty to campus, keep them at the university and help them improve professionally.

The new facilities include an addition to the library that will house the school's rare-books collection, an addition to the science building and new baseball fields, Carney said.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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