Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cart Before the Horse: PR Spin Before Policy?

Is the proposed 5% tax on all donations to NC State University a done deal? Has Vice Chancellor for Advancment Nevin Kessler, a man not worthy of having NC State University associated with his name, gotten his way? You decide.

An email arrived midday Wednesday. It came from one of my on-campus Deep Throats, one of many who feed my passion for information of what’s happening at NC State University, especially related to Kessler and his drive to tax contributions by 5% to operate his office. No doubt he's a typical a Democrat (with sincere apologies to the Democratic Party), as he knows only how to tax others and not generate a dollar through hard work.

The tax, supposedly if agreed upon by the NC State University Board of Trustees at its meeting in a few days (or maybe it's already agreed to), would not be an add-on to the contributor but a subtraction from money donated for any cause. Kessler and his band of merry men have already written the "public relations" message that will be released if the policy is implemented. The PR spin, full of deep horse manure, came in that email and, in its entirety, it’s presented below. It is written: “All gifts received by the university will be assessed.” There’s no word from anyone if this applies to donations to the NCSU Student Aid Association, Inc., aka The Wolfpack Club.

According to the proposed statement, implementation date would be July 1, 2010. Also, there is no indication if this applies to current un-paid pledges such as my on-going pledge to the Lonnie Poole Golf Course. If it's to be taxed, the University will receive the balance prior to that date just to keep Kessler from getting his greedy, grubby hands on my donation. After that, I’ll have to re-think any and all contributions to NC State until Kessler is no longer there. I believe many others will do the same, and I encourage many others to do the same: Pay up now; withhold later. No matter what you think, as an avid supporter of my alma mater, this is not cutting of my nose to spite my face. This is more about Kessler than the policy. Maybe if more contributors withheld donations, he might leave or be asked to leave. Do unto others, the big book says, and Kessler did unto Lennie Barton what should be done to Kessler.

You might be asking why I feel this way about Kessler. It’s simple. He lied to me in a telephone conversation last fall when he and temporary Chancellor James Woodward fired Barton. Since our initial conversation, I’ve tried to talk to him plenty of times. I called his office and left messages. I 've asked for official documents from his office and been ignored. At the time of my calls, maybe I wanted further explanation to his decision to fire Barton. Maybe I wanted to increase my contribution to the golf course. Maybe I had other good reasons to talk to the person who is supposed to be in fact the chief fund-raiser for the University. But then I understand he prefers not to speak with the "little people" who contribute to NC State. We must be too far below his level. Hah! In any case, a University representative in his position should take the time to talk with an alumnus, one who has supported the University with money and passion much more than he has. Remember, Kessler’s just a hired hand who has moved from job to job every three years or so. He does not have the guts or the courage to talk with me and others with my same concerns. My University should not be represented by someone as sleazy and as gutless as Kessler.

So, here is the text of the PR spin about the tax, if it passes. I have my opinion of the policy. Let me hear from you about it:

Funding Advancement at NC State University
At NC State University, we are known for our position as the largest university in North Carolina with almost 33,000 students from every county in the state and more than 100 countries.

This year we expect more than 18,000 to seek admission to a freshman class that will seat about 4,800. The average cost of tuition and fees for in-state students is just $2,764 per semester making us one of the three “Best Values” in public higher education according to US News & World Report.

We are also recognized for the economic impact we have on the state. Our innovation and research have helped attract more than $336 million in research funding to campus during the past year and for every dollar we receive in state support, we return $8 in total income to North Carolina.

Our 170,000 living alumni are legendary for their pride and passion around the Wolfpack, and every year our graduates pump more than $2.9 billion into the North Carolina economy.

A Challenge from Chancellor Woodson:
As we welcome our new Chancellor, Randy Woodson, to campus, he has charged us to reach higher in all of our efforts around teaching, research, extension and engagement. While we recognize that our gifts and potential are considerable, we also know that we must improve our efforts to raise private dollars if we’re to be successful.

Toward this end, the university is making some changes in our fund raising processes. These changes will align the university with standard practices across the country and prepare us to generate additional private dollars that will be used to fund our priorities and the priorities of our donors.

Our Action Plan:
To achieve our goals, the university must invest in new and improved information services, and research, gift and data processing systems. We must also invest in people.

To help fund these improvements, the university will implement a 5 percent gift assessment beginning on July 1, 2010. The assessment will be divided among the university’s main development office and the college or fund raising unit to which the gift is directed. All gifts received by the university will be assessed.

A significant portion of new funds will be dedicated to the university’s endowment. Increasing the value of this important funding source is vital to the long-term health of NC State. The average value of the endowments of our peer universities is about $1 billion, or more than $25,000 per student. At NC State, the value of our endowment is around $463 million, or $14,000 per student.

We will also pursue other sources of revenue to fund our aspirations -- state funds, endowment fees, etc. -- but the Gift Assessment is a reflection of the national model among colleges and universities. For example, assessments at our peer institutions range from 2 percent to more than 7 percent.

The Outcome of Our Actions:
With the increased funding made possible by additional private donations, we will be able to continue our efforts to enhance the student experience and to provide focus on our research efforts and on the priorities of our donors. By improving our fund raising efforts, the assessment will also leverage the gifts of those who already support the university in a way that will move NC State forward.
Now, see that "comment" line just below. Click and post. Anonymous comments, especially those in favor of Kessler's desire to steal from the rich to help his less than successful efforts, are encouraged and accepted.


  1. Summary: "blah, blah, blah....the university is making some changes in our fund raising processes....the university will implement a 5 percent gift assessment beginning on July 1, 2010 ....All gifts received by the university will be assessed...blah,blah, blah"


    Kessler can do the math on this...the Advancement and Development office is getting nothing from me since 5% of nothing is nothing...and that is just what I plan on giving after July 1, 2010 if this passes...FWIW, the actual loss is 100% of what I would have given for funding the university's objectives.

    Also, if this applies to Wolfpack Club donations too; then I am scaling way back to the bare minimum to keep my LTR's - which will be about an 80% cut from my current donation.

  2. MY beloved University is overrun with a bunch of schmucks and I'm tired of it.

    Our image is terrible, our athletic program is irrelevant, and now we have crooks taxing our donations.

    I say out with the good ole boys and in with some real winners.


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