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Stanford is top fundraiser among U.S. colleges in 2009

February 3, 2010 | 11:17 am

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/02/20/stanford_jwk6bwnc.jpgStanford University garnered the largest total of private donations of any American college or university last year, for the fifth consecutive year, even while charitable support for higher education dropped about 12% nationwide because of the recession, according to a new survey.

Stanford in 2009 took in a whopping $640.1 million in donations, down about 18% from the previous year but still big enough again to again beat Harvard University, which received $601.6 million, the report by the Council for Aid to Education showed. The next top fundraisers were Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University.

Four California universities ranked in the top 20 nationally. USC, which raised $368.9 million, was seventh; UCLA, ninth, with $351.6 million; UC San Francisco, 15th, with $300.4 million, and UC Berkeley, 19th, with $255.1 million.

The CAE, a New York based nonprofit organization, estimated that U.S. colleges and universities raised about $27.8 billion in all, with alumni and foundations as the biggest donors. The 12% decline was the steepest percentage drop since the survey began 40 years ago, survey director Ann E. Kaplan said. Along with a decline in endowments’ values and income, that made fiscal 2009 a tough time for most campuses, she said. "It had an impact," she said, referring to the budget cutbacks many colleges faced last year.

Martin Shell, Stanford’s vice president for development, said the school was gratified to remain No. 1 in fundraising at a time when many donors faced financial problems and his own department reduced its staff. "The fact that our donors responded with this level of support is a real testament to the generosity of our alumni, parents and friends," he said.

Some of the income counted in the survey included payments on pledges made in prior years, he said. And Stanford has collected what he described as a significant portion of $100 million pledged last January by several donors to establish a research institute focusing on energy issues; the largest gift toward that institute was $50 million from energy executive and Stanford alumnus Jay Precourt, after whom it was named. 

-- Larry Gordon

Photo: L.A. Times file

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