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Chicagoan upset over UA solicitation deluge

By Rachael Myer
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 10, 1998
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A Chicago woman claims she has been pestered by UA solicitors since she paid for a ticket to the university's 1995 homecoming football game with a personal check.

Judy Johanson has received dozens of fliers since 1995, primarily asking her to donate money to the University of Arizona athletic department, she said.

The University of Washington alumna thinks the UA obtained her address and phone number when she used a personal check to buy two football tickets while attending her UA alumnus friend's 40th class reunion.

"The check just opened a floodgate," said Johanson, a self-employed garment pattern maker. "I didn't go to the UA and I have no interest in the UA."

Pheobe Chalk, assistant athletic director for public relations and special events, said the athletic department does use information from checks to solicit.

"The athletic department does enter individuals' names and information of those who purchase tickets into a database. That information is used to mail ticket information, newsletters or requests for support," Chalk stated in an e-mail interview.

The athletic department made about $1.3 million in 1996-97 through solicitations, said Susan Cyran, assistant athletic director for finance.

The department asks for a donation of $1,000, though any amount is accepted, Chalk said.

The money goes anywhere the donator wants it to go, Chalk said. For example, donors can donate money to the women's softball team or the men's track team.

Men's basketball receives the most donation money on an annual basis, said Tom Sanders, the assistant director of athletics for development.

Five to 10 disbursements of fliers soliciting money are sent out each year to alumni, season tickets holders and former UA athletic letter winners, Chalk said. The number of fliers sent each year varies, she said.

Phone solicitations

About two weeks ago, Johanson said a UA solicitor called. When she asked to be taken of the UA's list, the woman said she could not do it.

"It is annoying enough to get the mail, but when people start calling me I consider that an interruption," Johanson said.

Chalk said her department did not make those phone calls.

"We do not do calls so I do not know where they would be coming from," she said.

Lisa Miller, director of the UA's Annual Fund, is in charge of soliciting funds for the university, excluding the pharmacy, medicine, law and athletic department.

She also said the phone calls to Johanson were not made by people in her department and said that her department does not use information from checks to solicit money.

Parents, alumni, UApresents and UA Museum of Arts ticket-holders are solicited by the Annual Fund, Miller said. She said Annual Fund employees follows guidelines when soliciting by phone.

Each phone call begins with a university activity update to keep parents and alumni informed, Miller said. After any questions are answered, donations are pursued, she said.

Getting off the list

People remain on the solicitation list whether or not they decide to donate, "unless otherwise requested," Miller said. She said her office adheres to anti-solicitation requests and that she receives about two complaints a month.

"Whatever their request is, we definitely abide by that," Miller said.

Those who ask to be taken off the list are designated such in a database, Miller said. She said about 120,000 parents and alumni each year are contacted by her office by phone and about 17,500 actually donate.

The Annual Fund in August sent about 160,000 mailers to alumni and friends of the UA asking for money.

Miller said 40 students solicit the UA community each day.

The UA Foundation, which the Annual Fund is a part of, raised about $58 million last fiscal year through solicitations, Miller said. Earnings have increased the past several years, she said.

Like the athletic department, Annual Fund solicitors ask people for donations starting at $1,000, although as little as $1 is accepted, Miller said.

College deans decide how Annual Fund money is spent, but donators can specify a specific area, said Thomas D'Anna, director of publications for the UA foundation.

Jaime Carrillo, a mechanical engineering senior, said he was not aware that the UA solicits parents and alumni.

"I would want the money to go to an effective use," Carrillo said.

Undeclared freshman Marieke Fortier said she thinks it's appropriate for parents and alumni to be solicited by phone.

"I am sure the most direct way is the most beneficial," Fortier said. "I think it is good to get support to get the community involved, not just the students."

Rachael Myer can be reached via e-mail at Rachael.Myer@wildcat.arizona.edu.

Financial Times Fall 98