June 11, 1995 in Nation/World

Ewu, WSU Presidents Live Like Kings Foundations Fund Their Opulent Surroundings To Help Them Land Big-Money Donations

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Presidents of the state universities in Eastern Washington wine and dine like social butterflies on donated money.

Luncheons, receptions, banquets and memberships at exclusive clubs are paid from private accounts given to them each year.

The money comes from the fund-raising foundations of the universities and is intended to enhance the image of the schools.

A look at the spending records shows how presidents Sam Smith and Mark Drummond hobnob on a social calendar that would be the envy of most, at no cost to themselves.

It’s all perfectly legal, and part of the fund-raising game.

This comes while college educators complain about cuts in taxpayer support, and students pay higher tuition.

The combined total of these funds at Eastern Washington and Washington State universities exceeds $100,000 a year.

This money is on top of tax-supported salaries and benefits.

Last year, EWU President Drummond earned $122,000 and received $24,000 as a housing allowance. The school foundation gave him a car.

WSU President Smith was paid $124,700, got a car and received a $35,000 annuity from the WSU Foundation. He lives in the campus mansion.

They say all the entertaining is nothing more than a business expense, and not as glamorous as it sounds.

Smith compares himself to a politician going from event to event trying to remember names and a few personal details about his guests.

During dinner, his wife picks up the conversation so he has time to eat, he said.

When Smith and Drummond attend the Spokane Symphony, their foundation funds buy the tickets.

If Smith treats guests to a weekend of Cougar football, the Greater WSU Fund ponies up.

The Presidential Discretionary Fund at EWU paid for a school rafting trip in 1992.

When the presidents travel out of town on business, the state pays for them. If their wives go, the foundation funds pay.

When Smith went to a meeting in downtown Spokane, his wife charged $5.35 for a lunch at Nordstrom.

Drummond’s $80-a-month dues to the Spokane Club are paid by the fund. Smith belongs to the Rainier and the Columbia Tower clubs in Seattle. Foundation money pays.

Both presidents say their sociability is the key to wooing donors.

“If it wasn’t for that fund we’d be stuck here talking on the telephone,” Drummond said.

The drive to land private money is a growing trend nationwide, especially with tax support declining.

“It’s part of the game today,” said Smith. “It’s a matter of doing business.”

But not all of this money is spent courting wealthy donors.

Top staffers and faculty are frequent guests at fancy functions, and presidents use the funds to buy art for their homes or offices.

Students and faculty said they are kept pretty much in the dark about the foundation spending, although some professors complain about a double standard.

EWU Professor Jeffrey Corkill, head of the faculty organization, said research journals are being canceled at the library next year while the administration continues to get money for dinner parties.

“It’s really galling to the faculty when the library has to be cut.”

The reality is fund raising is frequently done over drinks and dinner.

Nationally, some $4 billion is given to public higher education each year, with another $7 billion going to private colleges and universities.

Higher education is second only to churches when it comes to private giving.

The American Association of Fund Raising Council estimates that $125 billion went to charities in this country in 1993, the last year figures were available.

“It is substantial and it is growing,” said Eric Wentworth, of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. “What is happening in the state of Washington is certainly typical.

“The whole idea is to try to raise the prestige and quality of the university,” he said.

Private universities know the game well; public colleges and universities are relative neophytes.

In 1990, WSU launched a fundraising campaign and has so far raised $173 million of its $200 million goal. Last year, the school took in $42 million.

While EWU’s totals are much smaller, they are growing. The school’s endowment doubled to nearly $5 million over the past four years.

At both schools, much of the money goes into permanent scholarship funds and endowed faculty positions. The fund-raising foundations take out management fees.

“I want as big of a scholarship endowment as possible,” Drummond said.

To do that, he rubs elbows with key figures in education, business and government. The idea is to build broad support, he said. Wining and dining goes with it.

“That’s the way our society is. We typically talk over food. People come to my house and they like to drink wine,” Drummond said.

“I wouldn’t exactly say it’s partying and having fun.”

Drummond said he spends up to 80 percent of his time seeking support. “It’s like evangelism,” he said.

In 1993, Drummond was host at a banquet at the Spokane Club for outgoing state Sen. Jerry Saling, an EWU alum instrumental in getting money for a Spokane branch campus.

The tab came to $1,111. During the banquet, Republican Saling was given a medal and a plaque costing $84.67.

EWU is an equal opportunity entertainer.

The following month, Democratic state Rep. Helen Sommers of Seattle was the guest of honor at a dinner at EWU’s campus PUB. The cost was $186.

The latest EWU records available are for 1992-93, even though The Spokesman-Review eight months ago requested records through the middle of 1994. The school still had not provided those records last week.

At both universities, the parade of guests runs from executives to poets.

In May 1994, Smith hosted US West officials at the Lewis Alumni Center after the telephone company offered to buy $250,000 worth of classroom electronics.

The luncheon for 12 included a salad of mixed baby greens with raspberry vinaigrette, stuffed sole florentine, fresh asparagus, wild rice pilaf and rolls.

The bill came to $219.77.

In March 1994, Smith held a $427 reception for the WSU Women’s Club. Guests munched on stuffed mushrooms, crab-stuffed eggs, puff pastries with savory filling, Parmesan rounds, pineapple-strawberry kebabs, cheese and crackers.

For impromptu entertaining at his campus home, Smith stocks up. In February 1994, he charged $552 to the fund for wine and liquor.

A few months earlier, the Greater WSU Fund paid $604 for Christmas decorations at the Smiths’ home. The bill included $76 for fruit and nuts.

Smith’s guests often come with a pedigree.

Luminaries like Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko and former Cougar quarterback Drew Bledsoe made appearances. Also on guest lists were state Transportation Secretary Sid Morrison and Frank Blethen, the publisher of The Seattle Times.

High-ranking retirees get lavish treatment at times. In 1993, Smith threw a going-away reception for Stan Schmid, outgoing vice president for university affairs.

The bill came to $1,545.

A few days earlier, Schmid was toasted at a retirement dinner with 35 guests. The dinner bill was $712. He got a silver tray worth $266, photographs costing $68 and a framed certificate at $32, all paid from Smith’s entertainment fund.

In October 1993, the guest list at a $1,500 reception included 19 benefactors and spouses who gave some $36 million to the university.

Miscellaneous expenses include a $300 briefcase for a new member of the board of trustees at EWU. Drummond spent $151 for an office refrigerator and later borrowed $5,000 for a tapestry for his home. The loan was repaid.

Smith’s fund spent $58 to renew his wife’s passport and $565 to outfit Regent Carmen Otero in a graduation gown.

The University of Idaho gets into the act. President Elisabeth Zinser reported spending $32,000 in fiscal year 1994, down from nearly $74,000 in 1992.

Spokane’s community colleges do it, too.

Chief Executive Officer Terry Brown spends between $2,000 and $3,000 a year on entertainment.

Shaking thousands of hands can be tiring.

Last year, the Smiths hosted 2,000 guests at their home, and in an average week, the president meets with 500 people.

“You go into these kinds of jobs because you like people,” Smith said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Presidential Perks The presidents of EWU and WSU together receive more than $100,000 a year in donated funds for entertainment and other expenses. Some examples: From EWU’s Presidential Discretionary Fund May 1993 Entry fee for Bloomsday Corporate Cup $160.00 Aug. 1992 Art exhibit reception at Chase Art Gallery $461.25 Oct. 1992 12 books by Pat McManus for gifts $174.69 Sept. 1992 Alumni dinner at Green Gables Inn, Walla Walla $129.56 Sept. 1992 Table at Spokane Chamber of Commerce meeting $200.00 July 1992 Gift and certificate to GU President Bernard Coughlin $229.27

From the Greater WSU Fund June 1994 18 city of Pullman volunteers dine at president’s home $327.98 June 1994 Recording of harpsichord concert (presidential event) $105.35 Oct. 1993 Three WSU caps for KOMO-TV broadcast crew $29.97 Aug. 1993 Cougar art carving by Gary Noble for president’s office $300.00 Aug. 1993 Mount St. Helens paperweights for gifts $56.00 March 1993 230 tickets for guests at Cougar football games $2,530.00

This sidebar appeared with the story: Presidential Perks The presidents of EWU and WSU together receive more than $100,000 a year in donated funds for entertainment and other expenses. Some examples: From EWU’s Presidential Discretionary Fund May 1993 Entry fee for Bloomsday Corporate Cup $160.00 Aug. 1992 Art exhibit reception at Chase Art Gallery $461.25 Oct. 1992 12 books by Pat McManus for gifts $174.69 Sept. 1992 Alumni dinner at Green Gables Inn, Walla Walla $129.56 Sept. 1992 Table at Spokane Chamber of Commerce meeting $200.00 July 1992 Gift and certificate to GU President Bernard Coughlin $229.27

From the Greater WSU Fund June 1994 18 city of Pullman volunteers dine at president’s home $327.98 June 1994 Recording of harpsichord concert (presidential event) $105.35 Oct. 1993 Three WSU caps for KOMO-TV broadcast crew $29.97 Aug. 1993 Cougar art carving by Gary Noble for president’s office $300.00 Aug. 1993 Mount St. Helens paperweights for gifts $56.00 March 1993 230 tickets for guests at Cougar football games $2,530.00


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email