Moon church offers to boost UB funding

Grant to match up to $300,000 raised

Connecticut Post/November 28, 2003
By Linda Conner Lambeck

Bridgeport -- Efforts at the University of Bridgeport to raise new scholarship money have been bolstered by a $300,000 "challenge grant" from a group founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

The International Cultural Foundation has agreed to match dollars raised by the university up to $300,000, according to UB President Neil A. Salonen in a letter sent to more than 20,000 university alumni this week.

University spokesman John J. Daley said the challenge gift does not contradict the university's efforts to operate independent of support from the Professors World Peace Academy, another group associated with Moon and his Unification Church.

"This is different. It isn't part of the operating budget. It's not a subsidy," Daley said.

"It's a challenge to help us get back on our feet in the development area," said Daley.

The university this year announced its fiscal independence from the PWPA, which has given it more than $100 million over the past decade to help close budget gaps. This fiscal year, Salonen vowed to fuel a $40 million budget solely with tuition, government and private grants and gifts.

"Now that UB is on its feet again, it's time for all of our alumni and friends to take the initiative in supporting our continued growth," Salonen said in an appeal to alumni that included information on UB's scholar athletes and sports programs.

The new campaign seeks to bolster scholarship funds. The university needs to award nearly $7 million this year in scholarships and institutional aid, said Salonen.

Daley said at least 70 percent of UB's 1,003 full-time undergraduates get such aid. The average award, he added, is $10,000.

Tuition, fees, and room and board at UB are $26,500.

The university wants to raise $750,000 in new scholarship funds in honor of its 75th anniversary, which occurred in 2002. That would be three to four times what UB has raised annually over the past few years, Daley said.

In the early 1980s, before the university nearly closed due to financial problems, it was raising about $1.5 million annually.

"This is an effort to try to step it up in development, just as we've stepped it up in admissions," said Daley.

This year, although the university saw a net loss of eight students, its undergraduate admissions rose 14 percent, giving it the largest freshman class since 1991. Although several dormitories remain closed, the four that are open are nearly full, said Salonen.

It also is working to keep more students living on campus by offering discounts to upperclassmen.

The university's enrollment losses were in international students. Overall, the university has reported an enrollment of 3,165 students.

So far, Daley said the response to the fund-raising campaign has been strong. The campaign is being coordinated by a development committee of the Board of Trustees along with a number of alumni.

"We want them [alumni] to be part of the university and support the university," said Daley.

The International Cultural Foundation which Salonen said will match contributions up to $300,000 was founded in 1968 by Moon.

Its stated goals are to promote academic, scientific, religious work and "foster the emergence of a rich new world culture based upon enduring common values."

The group has also provided major support to the Professors World Peace Academy, according to the PWPA's Web site.

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