CU President Bruce Benson
CU President Bruce Benson (University of Colorado)
By the numbers

CU raised $258.8 million in the past fiscal year.

About half of that money, or $128.8 million, was donated through the University of Colorado Foundation. Of that $128.8 million, $54 million was donated to the Anschutz Medical Campus, $49.8 million to the Boulder campus, $15.5 million to the Denver campus, $7.7 million to the Colorado Springs campus and $1.8 million to the CU system.

About $130 million in private support was given directly to the university and the CU Real Estate Foundation.

Donations were up 13 percent over the previous year.

Nearly 50,000 individuals, foundations and corporations gave to CU in the past year.

Donors gave a record $258.8 million to the entire University of Colorado system during the past fiscal year, school officials announced Monday.

The total raised by the university and its foundation exceeds the school's previous record set in 2012 by 13 percent.

CU President Bruce Benson, in an interview, said he wants to see those numbers continue to climb and thinks the university could eventually be in the $400 million-a-year fundraising range.

In an effort to increase fundraising, CU has changed the way the university's foundation is run -- and campus-based fundraisers and their support staff now report to university leadership instead of the CU Foundation.

The switch, CU officials have said, allows for clearer and more direct reporting lines from fundraisers to administrators. Benson expects it will lead to another increase in fundraising for the fiscal year ending next July.

"I happen to think we'll do even better this year," Benson said. "People will be trying to prove themselves."

Benson also said he's expecting to make a decision soon on who will fill the newly created executive vice president for advancement position, a job that will coordinate fundraising efforts across the CU system.

He also said he expects the university to complete its "Creating Futures" fundraising campaign by the fall. The university has raised roughly $1.44 billion of its $1.5 billion goal. The campaign began in its "silent phase" in July 2006 and is CU's largest-ever fundraising effort.

Benson and his wife, Marcy, are long-time donors to the university, and their gifts this year are to a fund that the university president can use at his discretion, athletics and to Alzheimer's research.

"I give back more than I earn," he said.

Benson's salary is $359,100, according to Ken McConnellogue, a spokesman for the CU system. While Benson makes significant donations, a smaller portion of what he gives back is in university-related expenses he pays for himself, McConnellogue said.

This past year, donors gave about $130 million directly to the university and the CU Real Estate Foundation. The remaining gifts were donated through the CU Foundation. Of the $128.8 million given to the CU Foundation, $49.8 million is earmarked for the Boulder campus.

University officials say increasing fundraising is important because the state ranks No. 48 in the nation for higher education funding. CU will receive about $150 million from the state this fiscal year, which is slightly more than last year but less than in 2008, when the university received $229 million from the state.

"Private support will be increasingly important to CU and we are grateful for the investments of our donors," said CU Foundation President Richard Lawrence in a news release.

Among the fundraising highlights on the Boulder campus was drumming up $880,000 in donations toward CU Teach, which preps talented students for teaching careers. The donations triggered an equal matching grant from the National Math and Science Initiative.

Gordon Trafton is a 1977 graduate and donor to CU who recently gave $500,000 to the business school's mentoring program. In a way, his gift is a tribute to a former professor who acted as his mentor before he started his career in the railroad industry. Trafton spent 33 years in the industry before retiring as senior vice president for Canadian National at the end of 2010.

"We have so many programs that are important to helping a student in their whole education experience, but lack funding," he said. "I chose mentorship because it's what I'm passionate about."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.