Fund-raiser not so funding

If you’re going to build a temple, you ought to have enough money for an altar too.

That’s the lesson NIU should learn from the Hoffman Estates fund-raising debacle.

NIU secured approval for the Hoffman Estates campus only after a hard-fought turf war with Roosevelt University. NIU broke ground last October trying to get the new center open for fall semester. The complex consolidates course offerings from 30 sites in the northwest Chicago suburbs. The center opened, albeit not completely furnished, on Aug. 22.

The $6 million Hoffman Estates center is financed through the course fees it generates. No state or NIU (at DeKalb) student money is used. However, the amenities for the building such as computers and furniture were supposed to come from a massive private fund-raising drive of about $1 million.

Apparently, NIU did not count on a recession to stymie its efforts. Donors are very selective on who gets a dole nowadays. No one wants to donate money for a bookcase or a desk; it’s simply not high-profile. The fact that Tom Montiegel, NIU’s longtime fund-raising man, jumped the sinking ship in the middle of the voyage didn’t help efforts either. NIU has raised only $133,000 thus far.

So, if the Hoffman Estates Center doesn’t have its own phone lines in the 708 area code yet or there aren’t enough computers, blame it on the lack of money.

NIU certainly should have gotten more eggs before they counted them.