Law professor Bruce Ledewitz's Jan. 22 letter claims financial difficulties and fundraising troubles at Duquesne University and lays much of the blame on university president Charles Dougherty ("The Sale of WDUQ Reveals a Leadership Failure"). Professor Ledewitz's assertions are unfounded and ignore the following facts about Duquesne's financial performance.
The university recently completed its 20th consecutive year with a balanced budget. Standard & Poor's reaffirmed the university's bond rating to A-/positive outlook. S&P noted solid financial performance, a low debt burden, strong fundraising performance, good demand characteristics and a seasoned management team.
Since fiscal year 2002, applications increased 85.2 percent, enrollment rose 8.5 percent and the endowment grew 35.1 percent. Last year, universities nationwide froze salaries and cut jobs. Duquesne raised salaries 2.5 percent and cut no jobs last year. The university is investing $8.5 million relocating Physics and renovating the Bayer Learning Center to accommodate growth in the School of Pharmacy.
The current capital campaign is nearing $100 million. During this campaign, 18 individuals have made gifts of $1 million or more. During the entire history of the university prior to this campaign, there were only six gifts of this size. Foundations and corporations have made campaign gifts totaling $25.6 million, including the second-largest foundation gift in university history, $2 million from the R.K. Mellon Foundation. Including all sources during this period -- National Science Foundation/National Institutes of Health grants, sponsored research, external scholarships -- external funding has exceeded $215 million. Last year, during the worst economy since the Great Depression, gifts to the university rose 5.5 percent. During the same period, giving to higher education nationally decreased by approximately 4 percent.
The university has had effective financial management and strong fundraising results during President Dougherty's tenure. It is unfortunate that Professor Ledewitz chose to ignore these facts and make statements that are reckless and untruthful.
THADDEUS J. SENKO
New York, N.Y.
The writer is a partner with KPMG LLP and a member of the audit and finance and development committees of the Duquesne University board of directors.