A tuition campaign

Donations to the University of Minnesota were up 15 percent last year, according to MondayâÄôs Daily, but students shouldnâÄôt expect to see that money any time soon. Many gifts to the University come with strings attached, such as endowed scholarships or gifts for future projects. At the same time, in 2009, with a projected budget deficit of more than 1 billion, itâÄôs unlikely the Legislature will be able to continue with the state appropriation previously secured by University President Bob Bruininks to âÄúbuy downâÄù the tuition of middle-to-lower-middle class students by 2 percent. So itâÄôs time for some new billboards. Earlier this fall, the Daily reported the University used $460,000 on an advertising campaign to help raise the last $10 million needed to fund TCF Bank Stadium. The same logic and strategy should be applied to tuition. If the state wonâÄôt buy down tuition, maybe the donors will. ItâÄôs time for the University to hit the street and start raising money to help students now. Grassroots campaigns do work âÄî at least thatâÄôs the notion behind the stadium campaign. ItâÄôs also how Barack Obama was elected. There are thousands of University alumni in Minnesota, many of whom were fortunate enough to attend college when it was still possible to pay for tuition and rent by working a part-time job. University Foundation officials and administrators should work to appeal to these folks, even in a down year, even if they may be watching their retirement funds slide down the tubes. This is a time to think about the future, and the students at the University are the future of Minnesota.