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  Matt Ter Molen
  Photo © Callie Lipkin

Straight talk

Matt Ter Molen, Kellogg associate dean for development and corporate relations, explains why the school needs alumni support right now

By Rachel Farrell

Kellogg World: Why should alumni support Kellogg during this down economy?

Matt Ter Molen: Kellogg is seeing tremendous financial pressure right now — particularly in the area of scholarships, because the ways in which students are funding their education is changing. Getting alumni support for that specific area is absolutely critical. We haven't relied as much as our peer institutions on charitable giving to support scholarships, and this is a time when alumni gifts are critically important.

But it's always important to support Kellogg, whether we're in an up or down economy. In an up economy, giving can help the school take on new challenges, make enhancements to the curriculum and do a host of new things. During a down economy, there's an opportunity to help students in need and help the school maintain the level of excellence that's been achieved.

KW: What do you tell alumni who may be reluctant to give because they're feeling the squeeze themselves?

MTM: We want them to know Kellogg is here for them during the good times and the bad. Kellogg can offer a variety of networking services that will help them during this recession, and we hope our alumni use the many tools available to them for career networking and job searches.

We certainly know that some individuals' giving power has been diminished because of job changes and the drop in the markets. But we hope those alumni will "keep Kellogg on the list." We would hope to remain one of the organizations they support, and we ask that they think about Kellogg in the future. This may be a difficult year for giving and that's understandable, given the economy.

KW: What impact has the recession had on the endowment?

MTM: The endowment at Northwestern has declined, just like every other endowment at major universities in the U.S. That, in particular, means the amount of revenue available to the school for operating budgets in the next several years will be less than it has been. This underlies the important role that annual gifts play in supporting key initiatives at the school. Kellogg relies on endowment income — although less than many of our peer business schools — to support operations and special initiatives.

KW: Does reduced giving have the potential to impact Kellogg's ranking or quality of education?

MTM: Unfortunately, reductions in giving could have a negative impact on all of the above. It would impact the type of students that we can attract to the school as well as the support we offer to our faculty and enhancements to the curriculum. A lot of the new plans we have for new programmatic activities are dependent on having sufficient resources, so reduced giving would impact how the school functions. It really cuts across the whole spectrum of the school. We know that Kellogg operates in a very competitive environment, and having resources helps us stay competitive.

KW: What's the best way to make a gift?

MTM: One of the easiest ways is to go online and make your gift via credit card at Alumni can also call us on our toll-free line (800.222.5603), or send a gift through the mail. But there are more creative ways to give and individuals can make a gift by donating other types of assets, such as securities or real estate, or by simply putting Kellogg in their will. Participation is always an important measure of alumni satisfaction, and we'd love to have alumni continue to give and support Kellogg.

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