Private donations to Salt Lake Community College have put the two-year school at the top of the nation's community college fundraising list.

In fiscal 2007, SLCC garnered $26,359,143, putting it in the No. 1 spot in the nation for fundraising at community colleges, according to a report released last week by the Council for Aid to Education. SLCC earned $9 million more than the next highest community college on the list. In Utah, only Brigham Young University received more in donations last year.

"When you look at donations and benefactors to community colleges, we're just getting off the ground nationally," said SLCC President Cynthia A. Bioteau. "For Salt Lake Community College to be as successful as they have been to date, it's really exciting."

The Council for Aid to Education also reported that total giving to colleges and universities increased by 6.3 percent last year, making it the most beneficial year on record. Donations totalled nearly $29.5 billion last year.

Much of SLCC's support was the result of a long-standing relationship with local businessman and entrepreneur Larry H. Miller. Miller's expansion of an entire campus provided the school with multiple buildings and infrastructure.

"SLCC is able to provide singular education and training opportunities and the finest facilities in the region for our students in business and entrepreneurship, public safety and culinary arts as a result of Miller's generosity," Bioteau said.

The Miller Campus, which was founded in 2001 and is one of 14 SLCC locations throughout the Salt Lake Valley, served more than 1,700 students in more than 40 programs last year. It has grown to include eight buildings, including a new culinary arts facility, existing allied health buildings and a public safety complex. The Department of Public Safety, various local police departments, the Utah Highway Patrol and the Department of Corrections plan to train under the aegis of SLCC.

"We are both pleased and surprised to receive this national recognition," said Mason Bishop, SLCC's vice president of institutional advancement. "We're grateful for the tremendous support we have received from throughout the community, and hope that our continued efforts lead to even greater results in the future."

As with the operations of most institutions, private donations from business and industry partners are critical for SLCC to maintain service to the community. However, for two-year colleges, that money goes even further as they typically have fewer individual donors.

"So many of our students come for their first two years of a baccalaureate degree ... but then they go on to a four-year institution and that becomes their alma mater," Bioteau said. "Our students come and don't have the financial means to really think about donations when they have to think about paying for bread and milk. It's not so much the culture of a community college graduate as it is for a university graduate."

When vying for the same dollars that could go elsewhere, Bioteau said every little bit, from every single donor, helps.

"It comes from folks who just want to make sure that students in the trades and students in technical education can get an education regardless of their socioeconomic level," she said, adding that donations help SLCC be able to offer additional scholarships.

Bioteau has plans to make SLCC "the premier community college in the nation" and in doing so, she plans to make the fundraising record set this year a continuing trend.

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