Mildred García was appointed as the seventh president of Cal State Fullerton. She is the former president of Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Mildred García was appointed as the seventh president of Cal State Fullerton. She is the former president of Cal State Dominguez Hills.
When it comes to raising money from the private sector to offset dwindling state funds, California State University, Dominguez Hills, in Carson lags behind most of its peers. | Main story: As CSU campus budgets drop, university presidents get big raises

Over the past three years, the 23 campuses of the CSU system raised, on average, an amount equal to 13 percent of their state allocations. Dominguez Hills in that time generated just 5 percent - in the bottom quarter of the pack and exactly half of its CSU-imposed goal.

But a campus administrator says things are improving steadily.

"We're not at 10 percent, but we're going in the right direction, so we're happy about that," said Greg Saks, a vice president at Dominguez Hills, noting that the campus last year generated some $4.2 million in philanthropic funds, twice the amount it took in half a decade ago. "We have been able to see growth year over year."

The business of drumming up donated dollars is a task that falls squarely on the shoulders of a university president. It is a heavy burden, especially in this era of austerity.

This means presidents are no longer simply alpha administrators, but also corporate schmoozers. Hosting frequent dinner parties at their well-appointed houses -- often provided by the university -- is pretty much embedded in their job description.

"It's a 24-7 job," Saks said. "There are lots of things done on Saturday, Sunday and lots of evenings."

Cal State Dominguez Hills' former president, Mildred Garcia, is responsible for the campus' philanthropy numbers.


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Garcia served at the top for five years, but in July was promoted to the presidential post at the much larger Fullerton campus. She has been replaced by Willie Hagan, who, coincidentally, was Fullerton's interim president at the time.

With Garcia's promotion came a salary hike -- from $295,000 to $324,500 -- that drew fire from students, union members and some state legislators.

Hindsight has done nothing to alter Saks' opinion that the outcry was unfair.

"I believe the expectations of a college president are higher now than ever before," he said. "I think when you look at the totality of that position, it's a very challenging job."

Garcia's erstwhile subordinates also give her high marks on fundraising, statistics notwithstanding.

"It's worth noting that despite Garcia only having been here five years, the campus ... saw growth in fundraising," said campus spokeswoman Amy Bentley-Smith in an email.

Added Saks: "She had a unique ability to connect with a lot of different types of constituents. She was able to clearly articulate the institution's mission and goals. I think that resonated with donors."

Fundraising muscle at CSU tends to correspond more to legacy than size. One of the largest locations, CSU Fullerton, raised a relatively modest $8.4 million in 2010-11. Fresno State is a little bigger than half Fullerton's size but is considered a flagship CSU campus. It took home about twice as much.

King of the fundraising game is San Diego State, which raked in some $71 million in 2010-11, or nearly 40 percent of its state allocation.

In addition to being among the smaller campuses, Dominguez Hills has long grappled with the handicaps endemic to low-profile brands, so its weaker donor pull is perhaps not surprising.

On the measure of dollar amount, Dominguez Hills ranked fourth to the bottom in 2010-11, with its $3.1 million figure surpassing only Channel Islands, Stanislaus and Maritime Academy.

In fairness, the CSU system clusters the campuses into three divisions based on their track record and institutional capacity for attracting philanthropy, and sets their goals accordingly. Dominguez Hills is in the group of lightweights. When stacked against these 11 other schools, Dominguez Hills' ratio of fundraising dollars to taxpayer dollars (5 percent) is closer to average (7 percent).

CSU asks the campuses in this group to shoot for raising 10 percent of their state budgets; only two met that mark. It asks the four heavyweights - Fresno, Long Beach, San Luis Obispo and San Diego - to strive for 15 percent. Of these, only Fresno missed the goal in 2010-11, drawing 12 percent. 

At CSU Dominguez Hills, regular donors include local corporate stalwarts such as Toyota, Honda, Shell Oil and BP, as well as the Watson Land Co., which is owned by the descendents of the Dominguez family for whom the campus is named. The Gilbert Foundation is also a regular contributor. Last year, the campus found a new donor in the Wallace Annenberg Foundation.


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