Spend a little, get a lot. That was theory behind the Northwest Missouri State University Board of Regent's decision Friday to approve two new professional staff positions within University Advancement, the department charged with raising funds for scholarships, capital improvements and a wide range of academic programs.
Both of the new jobs − titled director of development and development officer in charge of major gifts − are directly linked to the planned kickoff in 2014 of a capital campaign designed to raise $45 million in donations, estate gifts and pledges for Northwest over the next seven years.
In contrast to previous incarnations of the university's governing board dating back to 2008, which viewed the creation of professional staff positions, pay raises, market-based salaries and other new personnel spending with suspicion, and even hostility, the current panel approved the proposal from Advancement Vice President Mike Johnson with relatively little debate.
However, board Chairman Mark Hargens did ask if the establishment of two relatively high-paying positions might create hard feelings within a faculty and staff that have weathered several years of tight budgets, program cuts and layoffs.
In addition, Regent John Richmond voiced concern that the new positions would become an entrenched part of the university's bureaucracy after the fund drive meets its goals regardless of whether their functions were still necessary.
Johnson responded that capital fundraising is a permanent university objective, and that at the end of the upcoming campaign Advancement would likely need more staff, not fewer.
Both Hargens and Richmond declined to make an issue of their concerns and voted, along with the rest of the board, to approve the new positions.
No fixed salary has been set for either job, though Johnson said the director of development will likely make between $80,000 and $90,000 a year. The major gifts position will probably pay in the neighborhood of $60,000.
Northwest's Advancement staff also serves as the de facto staff for the quasi-independent Northwest Foundation, and a portion of the salaries for both positions would come from foundation funds.
If the new capital campaign proves successful, the money raised will help fund major initiatives in three distinct areas: capital projects, scholarships and academic programs.
Projects currently on the drawing board, Johnson said, include an indoor "student activity center," which would serve as an all-weather practice field for intercollegiate football, baseball and other sports, and an agriculture complex at the R.T. Wright University Farm north of Maryville.
On other fronts during its regular session last week, the regents approved a new naming policy designed to honor university supporters who make significant financial contributions.
Essentially the policy states that university buildings and interior spaces can be named for donors who make gifts equal to 60 percent of the assessed value of an existing facility. In the case of new buildings, the regents could grant naming rights to a donor who provides 60 percent of the money used for the privately funded portion of construction.