MU alumni pull $2 million in donations following campus unrest
COLUMBIA - Unrest on the University of Missouri campus last fall lead to protests and several leadership changes. Now, key donors who are upset with the outcomes who fund the advancement of the university are pulling their donations.
According to Tom Hiles, MU Vice Chancellor for Advancement, approximately $2 million in gifts promised by seven to 10 top donors have been pulled because concerns of university leadership and how campus unrest was handled.
Hiles said his office logged over 2,000 calls and emails from concerned alumni, some citing embarrassment over the university's involvement with Planned Parenthood, Melissa Click controversies and the Nov. 9 campus protests.
On Oct. 8, MU launched a fundraising initiative with a goal of $1.3 billion. Since then, Hiles said a lot of donors have kept their promise with donations totaling $660 million.
As for what the university is doing to keep donors coming back, Hiles said his department as well as Interim Chancellor Hank Foley are personally reaching out to alumni donors that are anxious about the fate of the university.
"They are hungry, very hungry to hear good news about their alma mater," Hiles said.
Last week, Foley and Hiles traveled to Florida and the pair have plans to visit St. Louis and Kansas City to host kick-off events to keep the fundraising initiative going strong. Hiles said once or twice a month they will hold the regional events.
Overall, Hiles said he is not giving up on the donors who are backing out. He continues to follow up with those who are upset about recent campus events and assuring them that the challenging times will pass. His department has been making personal calls, holding conference calls, sending emails and making personal visits to donors to keep them encouraged and invested in the university.
While $2 million seems like a lot of funding gone missing, Hiles said the relatively $700 million is still a hefty start to the fundraising initiative.
[Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of MU Vice Chancellor for Advancement Tom Hiles' name.]