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University of Ga. hits fundraising record despite sagging economy

ATLANTA - The University of Georgia has had a record fundraising year, bringing in more than $100 million despite the sagging economy, university officials said Tuesday.

The university raised $110 million during the fiscal year that just ended June 30, bucking a national trend where many colleges - public and private - have seen their donations slip as the recession drags on, said Tom Landrum, senior vice president of external affairs. At the same time, the number of donors rose by 3,000, hitting almost 54,000 separate gifts from individuals and organizations.

'The only explanation I can give you is there was a lot of air miles and shoe leather,' UGA President Michael Adams said during a recent interview in his office on the UGA campus in Athens. 'We think to have had our best year ever in this climate is a pretty strong statement of support by our constituencies.'

The number is up from the $103.9 million raised the previous year and a huge leap from the $53.9 million that was donated in 1999. The private donations go to pay for items that universities can't typically afford with funding from the state - scholarships for students, salaries for distinguished faculty members and state-of-the-art buildings.

But for many colleges, the story likely won't be the same as UGA, though numbers are still being crunched on most campuses across the country. For example, the University of Tennessee's flagship campus in Knoxville saw a 9 percent dip in donations last fiscal year to $89.5 million, said spokeswoman Elizabeth Davis.