Columbus State Salutes its Private Donors

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Despite shrinking state budgets and a lagging national economy, Columbus State University’s Annual Fund drive is holding a steady pace, says Meri Robinson, director of annual giving and alumni relations.

The university will display gratitude for the support when Columbus State celebrates its 15th annual CSU Day on Friday, March 27.

More than 100 community volunteers will distribute red, white and blue signs displaying “We are Partners with Columbus State University.”

The occasion represents a thank-you to contributors to the 2009 Annual Fund goal of $1.9 million.

First appearing one week earlier, the signs will come out en masse on CSU Day and be planted in front of businesses and homes of donors who have supported CSU and joined the university to strengthen both CSU and the surrounding community.

“Despite the economy, we’re just $50,000 behind last year’s pace, but ahead of 2007’s pace,” said Robinson. “Our donors are digging deeper into their pockets than we anticipated. Most are giving at least as much as last year, and some have bumped up their contributions.”

The Annual Fund gives Columbus State immediate flexibility in meeting needs related to student scholarships, faculty support, research assistance, purchases of book collections and equipment, and developing technology infrastructure.

“Particularly, our donors know the kids need those scholarships and are figuring out ways to continue this level of support during this tough economic time,” said Robinson.

CSU enrollment, now at about 8,000 compared to 5,200 eight years ago, has raised the stakes in regard to private giving. In each of the past few years, scholarship applications have doubled while faculty requests for research funds have tripled.

Scott Voynich, this year’s Annual Fund chair, said CSU Day also is an occasion to reflect on the CSU story. “We need to send a message that we understand the importance of continuity in the great programs that have been started. We understand the difference between existence and excellence. We understand the commitment necessary to sustain excellence. We need to send the message that our programs and our successes are here to stay.”

Voynich, a CPA with Robinson, Grimes & Co., will join CSU President Tim Mescon and a CSU student representative in giving remarks to launch CSU Day during an 8 a.m. breakfast for the event’s volunteers at the Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center.

While Voynich has helped direct the overall campaign, English Education Professor Jim Brewbaker and Associate Director of Residence Life Todd Myrick have co-chaired the Annual Fund’s faculty-staff segment. “Columbus State has enhanced my professional life for decades,” said Brewbaker, who joined what was then Columbus College in 1971. “Through supporting the Annual Fund, I see myself as giving back even as I gain new opportunities. For me, it’s a win-win situation.”

Myrick said many among faculty and staff should identify to some degree with Brewbaker’s testimonial. “I want to encourage both those who have never given before and those who give regularly.'

Prospective CSU Day volunteers should call 706-568-2280 or e-mail rodgers_april@ColumbusState.edu. In addition to breakfast, volunteers will be served lunch, starting at noon in the Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center. Those unable to deliver signs during CSU Day can make deliveries prior to Friday.