Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Randy Capps (Director), Dr. Constantine Curris, Dr. Sally Ray

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine America’s 272 public comprehensive universities and the president’s role in fundraising in order to better understand this unique group. In addition, this study examined the president’s background, training, duties, and specific involvement in the fundraising process. Also, this study reviewed what background and training would have been helpful prior to and during a presidency in preparation for these duties and responsibilities.

Previous studies stated that presidents ranked fundraising as the number one area where they were least prepared when they assumed their new role. In addition, many university presidents reported that up to 50% of their time is spent on institutional advancement duties, which include fundraising.

Public universities, which educate nearly 80% of all college students in America, are going through a period of great change as they struggle to balance their budgets as states further reduce higher education appropriations. Specifically, state appropriations for public universities are at their lowest point in 30 years, having declined by about onethird since 1980, and there is no end in sight to this funding dilemma.

Furthermore, although academic fundraising has occurred for centuries, this new decline in state support for public comprehensive universities has caused presidents to turn to alumni, friends, corporations, and foundations for private funds with new and increased fundraising efforts to make up for lost state appropriations. This alteration in the funding model during the past several years has changed the primary duties of university presidents. Many are unprepared and ill-equipped for these new fundraising duties, which are seemingly mandatory as a part of their daily duties.

This study used both descriptive and exploratory methodologies in its design and utilized survey results, face-to-face and phone interviews, a review of available literature, and an analysis of secondary sources of data from previous research studies.

The American public comprehensive university is faced with many funding challenges today, and never has there been a time when more pressure is being placed on the institution’s president to be successful in fundraising. This exploratory and descriptive study reports specific findings and provides a base in which to develop new research in order to assist comprehensive university presidents with these new fundraising duties and responsibilities.


Educational Administration and Supervision | Finance and Financial Management | Higher Education Administration