Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Porterfield Attracting Investors

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Daniel Porterfield, vice president for public affairs and strategic development, is a man with a vision – a vision of Georgetown as a unique institution in the realm of higher education, a vision of an institution that has earned a reputation for academic excellence without the advantage of accumulated wealth.

Porterfield spoke with THE HOYA about Georgetown’s financial situation and the prospects for the university’s future.

“Look at today,” he said, “where people will say, `we’re at Georgetown, we don’t have the resources.’ We can’t let that hinder our belief that we have a trajectory. They didn’t have resources 30 years ago, either. We might not have the flexibility we did then, and we don’t have the advantage of accumulated wealth, but I can look at the investments we’ve made and say, `job well done.'”

Porterfield asserted that Georgetown has succeeded because it invested in its people. “I have an intuition – universities that bet on excellence are the ones that will sustain the institution,” he said.

Porterfield acknowledged that Georgetown would commence a new capital campaign with a goal of over $1 billion dollars in the near future after a short planning period.

“We will be starting a campaign in the next few years. But what needs to be done first is to talk with faculty, students and donor prospects, and from that dialogue identify exciting new opportunities for investment in our academic mission,” he said.

Porterfield stressed that those who give financially to Georgetown should be considered investors, not donors.

“These people want to invest in something,” he said. “Look, the world needs interreligious dialogue. What is the role of Georgetown? What work could we be doing in this area? That’s how we get the money for it; by finding people who want to make a difference and working with them,” he said.

Universities, he added, must remain committed to their core traditions and strengths. “Universities have to achieve philanthropic excellence to preserve and enhance academic excellence,” he said. “However, if a university pursues philanthropic goals in ways that are not consistent with their values, they run the risk of losing their souls in the process.”

As a result, a university could accept a gift that did not promote academic distinction.

Porterfield said that as fundraising becomes a larger priority in higher education, universities can inadvertently send the message that money is the key to academic success, rather than creativity or intellectual integrity.

“Fortunately, Georgetown’s Jesuit identity and tradition of love for undergraduate experience provide important checks,” Porterfield said.

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