by Neil Berkowitz
Publish or perish? There is a new, shudderingly tangible realization sweeping through academic departments across campus: find new ways to generate necessary financial support to maintain the excellence of your research, teaching, and programs or watch them diminish before your eyes. In short, fundraise or perish!
While faculty have always been active in securing support for their departments, for the first time departments are now hiring their own development staff and setting up their own development offices. The Department of English, one of the largest departments on campus, took that step in October by hiring me as Outreach Coordinator.
I have some personal experience with how short funding diminishes our ability to recruit top graduate students. After having accepted an offer to join the Ph.D. program here several years ago, I began receiving upgraded offers from another school. When their offer topped the UW’s by 30% my decision became clear. The story is sadder still when lack of competitiveness draws faculty to institutions less challenged in their ability to commit needed funds to their humanities professorships.
The Department of English currently provides over 77,000 student credit hours of instruction each year!
I prefer now to think of what funding can and will do. This is known territory, visible and real. Gifts to the department have impact. Every gift. A $100 gift will pay a guest lecturer’s honorarium. A $500 gift will help a graduate student travel to a conference, gaining irreplaceable preparation for future scholarship. $5,000 pays part of a T.A.’s stipend to teach. A gift of $250,000, like the recently endowed Nancy K. Ketcham Professorship, will create an enduring legacy of quality education.
Several years ago as a training activity I asked a group of new staff how they would measure their success. Their answer was “leave the program stronger than we found it.” I ask your help in achieving that here. Together we can fund the immediate and long-term needs required to maintain our excellence and to fulfill the critical role the department fills at the UW. Please give generously today.