BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
With less than one third of Queen’s College operating budget funded by the New York State and no support from the City, Dr. James Muyskens does a lot to ensure the college’s campaigning efforts can support student scholarships, technology upgrades, attracting and retaining faculty and many other programs.
“As President, you have to be out fundraising,” Muyskens said. “You fundraise with alumni. When you go to talk to someone about giving back to Queens, you ask [about] their life story.”
Assistant Vice President of Institutional Advancement Laurie Dorf said, in the past five years, they have raised $102 million, which has gone towards student and faculty support, the endowment of the college and campus beautification.
Dorf said since Muyksens came on as the president of Queens College, there has been a lot more of a focus on student scholarships.
The school offers more than 350 scholarships which, in the past year, totaled $2.7 million, Dorf said.
With the funds being raised Dorf said, “It has allowed student and faculty to conduct groundbreaking research.”
“It has allowed students to hopefully get the support they need, so they don’t have to work one or two jobs and they can graduate in four years,” she added.
Dorf said in the past 12 years, the endowment of the college grew from $11 million to $50 million.
Assistant Vice President of External and Governmental Relations Jeffrey Rosenstock said one of his roles in terms of fundraising is to secure discretionary capital and operating grants from elected officials.
“Part of our goal is to ensure, though we are a public university, our students have the same resources and facilities on campus just like any kid attending a private college does,” he said. “Just because their tuition is less does not mean they should have less resources.”
Rosenstock said he and the president visit elected officials all over Queens to present their wish list. In the past few years, Rosenstock said from capital funding alone, they have been able to raise $3 million to $4 million per year.
Since the average annual tuition is $5,500, Rosenstock said that does not cover the cost of expenses, like a $4 million laboratory, but elected officials recognize that. Most of the funds provided by elected officials go towards renovations for the college’s facilities, like the library, laboratories, classrooms and the performing arts center, Rosenstock said.
Rosenstock highlighted the Kupferberg Center as a very important contribution to the college, since they were able to first receive $10 million in a private donation from Max Kupferberg, and then another $14 million from elected officials.
“The value is not only for our students, but the community at large, so politicians see we are not only helping our students,” Rosenstock said.
When it comes to setting the priorities for fundraising and establishing which projects are most important for the college, Rosenstock said, “The president is the lead.”
He said the president has to juggle the college’s priorities, while maintaining a streamline communication with the faculty and staff to determine what projects makes it to the wish list.
“That is a big juggling act,” Rosenstock said. “And he has to come up with a compelling argument as to why Queens College should be chosen as opposed to other organizations.”
Since it is such a competitive process and elected officials do not have an endless pot of money, Rosenstock said “We have to show why someone [an elected official] in Richmond Hill should give us money.”
Rosenstock said one of the reasons Muyskens has been so successful in raising lots of funds for the school is because he respects the limited resources most elected officials have. He said the president also understands that elected officials cannot give every time.
Two of Muyskens’ greatest strengths are his patience and the personal relationships he has built with the elected officials over the years, Rosenstock said.
“People support his vision and people realize we have increased the student population from 15,000 to 20,000,” Rosenstock said. “So people want to give him the tools because he is graduating really solid students. We are providing the best bang for the buck.”
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, email@example.com, or @Tsakhuja13.