SEATTLE -- Money from a massive statewide fundraising campaign will help soften the blow of recent budget cuts for Washington State University Tri-Cities.
That good news emerged during a Thursday event, just ahead of budget cut announcements scheduled today.
WSU kicked off the second half of its largest-ever fundraising campaign Thursday, with officials saying they aim to raise $1 billion by 2015. University President Elson Floyd announced the ambitious goal at an event in Seattle, which was broadcast to every WSU campus.
The campaign started quietly four years ago and now enters its more visible phase, a standard pattern for fundraising efforts of this size. More than $500 million has been collected already, Floyd said.
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University officials also announced the single-largest donation WSU has ever received.
Microsoft co-founder and WSU dropout Paul Allen gave $26 million to expand the School for Global Animal Health in Pullman. The facility will bear his name.
The Allen money won't benefit the Tri-Cities campus, as it is designated solely for the Pullman facility. Other donations from the campaign will have an effect here.
Two other very large donations from single donors are headed for WSU's chemical and business programs.
Since the Tri-Cities campus offers such courses, it should be eligible to receive some of that money, Vice Chancellor Dick Pratt said after the event.
Any money that has been collected in the Tri-Cities stays here, Pratt said.
Each campus chips in to the overall WSU effort. The local campus is expected to raise $25 million by 2015, said WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor Vicky Carwein. It has collected $5.6 million so far.
Some of the local money will be put to use in Richland.
"We are hiring engineering faculty as we speak," Pratt said.
Privately donated money will pay the new instructors' salaries for four to five years, he said.
The fundraising campaign isn't intended to relieve the state of its financial responsibilities, university officials were careful to point out at the Seattle event.
WSU Tri-Cities lost about $850,000 in state money this school year. An announcement on exactly what will be cut at which campus is scheduled today.
The state is paying the campus for about 270 fewer students than are enrolled here, Pratt said.
"We are the fastest-growing campus in the state and the most over-enrolled," he said.
The private money will help the campus increase staff to match that rise in enrollment.
Thursday's event was a call to action for local donors, especially from businesses that look to hire qualified graduates, said Bill Lampson, co-chairman of the local portion of the campaign.
"It'd be great if the state could do it all by itself," Lampson said. "But it can't and it won't, so we have to pick up the ball and run with it."
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