A private university with a large state grant

UT looks to boost fundraising with loss of stimulus money looming
Four years ago, the two main revenue sources for the University of Tennessee's Knoxville campus flipped.

For the first time, UT relied more on tuition than state appropriations to pay its bills. Each year after that, the gap has widened.

While administrators and trustees insist that tuition increases will always be on the table, the loss of the stimulus and one-time money that has been keeping budgets afloat has them turning to another money source: private donations.

The UT Foundation, the university's fundraising arm, will make a push to double its annual gifts in the next decade. By restructuring its financing to become independent from the university, it will be free to hire more people to raise more money. Goals are shifting to focus on bringing in more unrestricted dollars. The foundation is planning a new campaign after raising $1 billion in its last fundraising haul.

"The Legislature is still the biggest single donor we've got," said Interim President Jan Simek. "In the long run, we don't want to cut too much and we have to find ways to absorb tuition" increases.

The only alternative, he said, is going to be private donors.

The Legislature is not likely to return any of its nearly 30 percent cut taken out of higher education in the last three years, trustees agree. In fact, said board of trustees Vice Chairman Jim Murphy, the board cannot be sure the cuts won't continue.

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