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Leading Univ. to Get Serious About Wooing Rich Donors

Posted October. 24, 2008 07:48,   


Seoul National University will offer a VIP lounge for major donors in the university hospital and hire staff to cater to them, a first for a Korean university.

The school will also hold cultural events to attract more donors.

The SNU Development Fund said yesterday that these moves seek to raise the amount of donations, adding securing sufficient funding is essential to the privatization and globalization of the university at the same time.

“We will install a lounge on the first floor of the medical alumni hall to allow those who donate 100 million won (71,000 U.S. dollars) or more to rest while waiting when they visit Seoul National University Hospital in Seoul,” a fund representative said.

Like those in airports, the VIP lounge has phones, TVs and Internet access and offers free snacks. Two staff members will also cater to major donors from next month.

The fund, however, will not install a luxurious interior to avoid controversy over discrimination. The hospital will not also give donors priority in reservations or discounts on medical bills like other top private university hospitals.

Seoul National will also allow major donors to use the existing VIP lounges of the Gangnam Health Promotion Center and its branch in the southern Seoul suburb of Seongnam.

Though the move could fuel controversy over fairness since the university’s hospital is public, the school said it is desperately seeking customized services for donors.

“Our analysis shows that big donors have great interest in health because most of them are old,” said fund director Nam Ik-hyun. “We will scratch the itchy spot by beefing up medical services for them.”

The average age of those who donate more than five billion won, or 3.5 million dollars (two people), was 74; more than one billion won, or 710,000 dollars (seven), 52; and more than 100 million won, or 71,000 dollars (78), 45.

The university is also raising donations through music and art. Five hundred works from 340 art school alumni will be sold in a silent auction at the university’s art museum from Sunday.

The highest bidder will win the drawing using a sheet of paper. All of the artworks are worth more than one million won on the market and 50 percent of the proceeds will go to the fund and the Fine Arts Alumni Association.

The university also held a benefit concert Oct. 14 to raise donations for the first time. More than 10 billion won (7.1 million dollars) was collected at the one-night event, in which music school alumni vocalists and conductor performed.