Education

UK to pay $1 million to a Texas consultant. The job? Raise billions.

The University of Kentucky plans to pay a Texas company $1 million to help prepare for its next capital campaign, with a goal of raising at least $1.5 billion
The University of Kentucky plans to pay a Texas company $1 million to help prepare for its next capital campaign, with a goal of raising at least $1.5 billion cbertram@herald-leader.com

The University of Kentucky will pay $1 million to a Texas consultant to help with its next capital campaign, aimed at raising between $1.5 billion and $2 billion for the endowment.

The contract with the Expo Group of Irving, Texas, appeared before the legislative Contract Review Committee on Tuesday for approval. According to committee documents, the company will provide strategic design services, production of the campaign launch, and regional events around the nation.

The money to pay the company will come out of the endowment. At its December meeting, the UK Board of Trustees approved a temporary increase in the amount of money that could be taken out of the endowment for this purpose, spokesman Jay Blanton said. The value of UK’s endowment in December was $1.45 billion.

It has not yet been decided whether the campaign will be for $1.5 billion or $2 billion, but either amount would be the largest in UK’s history. It will probably kick off this spring.

“Our aspirations are clear: funding for scholarships to ensure that financial need is not an impediment for Kentuckians and others who want to attend UK; funding to recruit outstanding scholars who will advance our commitment to education, research, service and care; and funding to continue our efforts to attack Kentucky’s most significant challenges, from opioid abuse to cancer and heart disease,” Blanton said. “These efforts — all of which are aimed at making Kentucky stronger and healthier — are expensive, and they increasingly require private financial support from thousands of donors.”

UK currently gets about 8 percent of its budget from the state but is expecting that number to decrease dramatically as legislators prepare to cut $1 billion in state funding. Several lawmakers have said that higher education should prepare for possibly the largest cuts in state history.

The UK philanthropy department has 50 employees, but that number doesn’t count fundraisers who work throughout the university in other departments or a separate fundraising staff in athletics. UK’s operating budget for fiscal 2017-18 was $3.7 billion.

Linda Blackford: 859-231-1359, @lbblackford

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