College alumni still generous with donations

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Some choose to keep their pocketbooks closed when it comes to charitable donations during the recession, yet some alumni still are willing to shell out funds for their alma mater.

Donations to the Mesa State College Office of Development increased from $4.59 million to $4.96 million between the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years. The University of Colorado Foundation had a record number of donations made in the 2008-09 school year, according to the university’s Web site.

Alumni directed the majority of donations to the college’s Saunders Fieldhouse renovation project this year — $2.6 million, or 52.5 percent, of donations went to the project in 2008-09.

The previous year, 37 percent of donations, $1.68 million, was dedicated to the renovation.

“Even with the recession, we’re still seeing people giving to the college,” acting Mesa State Development Director Kristi Pollard said during a fundraising presentation at Thursday’s meeting of the Mesa State Board of Trustees.

Lack of money also came up in conversation during the meeting, namely the state’s limited capital construction funds for the 2010-11 budget cycle. The college will request capital construction dollars, but Mesa State Vice President of Finance Patrick Doyle isn’t counting on approval from the Legislature.

“There doesn’t appear to be any capital dollars available, but we’re going to try. It just makes sense to be ready,” Doyle told trustees.

The request list begins with $18.8 million for renovating Houston Hall, followed by $6.29 million for the second phase in a geothermal-exchange system, then $26.05 million to renovate and expand Tomlinson Library and $2 million to plan an events center.

Mesa State President Tim Foster said the events center money is unlikely to get funding in the near term.

“That’s probably the biggest Hail Mary in the docket,” he said.

Construction projects still in progress include the Saunders remodel, renovation of Wubben Hall and the adjoining science center, and the new student center. The expansion of the Moss Performing Arts Center should be complete by Sept. 15.

The North Avenue Residence Hall had a grand opening celebration Tuesday. The hall will have Main Street Bagels, The Bike Shop and My Wireless locations on the first floor of the building facing North Avenue. The college is waiting for a signature on a five-year lease for another retail spot in the residence hall for Super Cuts. Two retail spots are open, plus another storefront in the shorter building between the residence hall facing North Avenue and the one facing Cannell Avenue.

Michael Baker of the Mesa State College Real Estate Foundation said he’s optimistic the remaining retail space will fill once the other stores open.

“I feel good, I don’t feel great, about the progress we’ve made. It’s a hard time for retail space,” he said.


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