New Capital Campaign looks to close gap between revenue and overall cost

Maria Mauti, Staff Writer

Universities, whether public or private, rely on generated tuition to run their operations. Traditionally, Robert Morris University has used this model to fund itself as well.

However, this year RMU is breaking from this tradition with a new vision, launching an unconventional strategy for fundraising.

Currently, about 92 percent of RMU’s budget comes from tuition and room and board, stated RMU’s President Gregory Dell’Omo.

At the start of this semester, the president announced a new campaign titled The Capital Campaign, which looks to close the gap between revenue and overall cost.

The campaign is broken into three categories: capital, endowment and programmatic.

One of the main focuses of this campaign has been the capital category of the campaign, which funds new buildings and renovations.

“Our biggest need is getting more academic facilities. Having grown over the years we need more academic space,” stated Dell’Omo.

The endowment portion of the campaign will fund scholarships and professorships while the programmatic portion will directly fund departments and programs.

The goal of the campaign, according to Dell’Omo, is to raise $40 million by the end of the 2011-2012 academic year. Of the $40 million goal, about $36 million has been raised so far.

“We [historically] never devoted time to fund raising [as a university], but that all changed during the mid-90s when we moved towards becoming a traditional university,” Dell’Omo said.

Dell’Omo added that this model of facility construction and renovation being funded solely by outside sponsors is central to the heart of the Capital Campaign.

For example, approximately $10 million was raised to fund the construction of the new School of Business building.

“We didn’t have to rely on student tuition to build this building,” explained Dell’Omo.

Although RMU is supported by numerous companies in the Pittsburgh region alone, but the most important donors to the president are the alumni.

“Because we are relatively young, it takes generations to get…alumni support…and we are just getting that off the ground,” said the president. “You want to ensure students have a good experience because they become our alumni who give back a great portion of our sponsored funds.”

The Capital Campaign is scheduled to end fall of 2012. Projects scheduled to be finished include the new School of Communications and Information Systems and the New School of Nursing and Health Sciences.