FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The University of Alaska has hired a new associate vice president for development, a job intended to boost private donations.
''Across the country, people are understanding that many of the states don't have the resources to invest in education, and private support can make a tremendous difference,'' said Mary Rutherford, 35, in an interview.
She began her new $100,000-a-year job at the beginning of this month. Her salary is being paid by a three-year, $500,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation.
''In a sense for us, it's coming home,'' said Rutherford, whose husband also has Alaska roots.
Rutherford's father started working on the trans-Alaska oil pipeline in the 1970s, and the family moved to Fairbanks a few years later. Rutherford graduated from Lathrop High School in Fairbanks in 1985 and studied travel industry management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She worked for the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau and was promoted to director of convention sales and services there.
Rutherford then moved to the Washington-Idaho region, first doing tourism promotion and then directing a hospital foundation in Clarkston, Wash.
She went to work for the University of Idaho in Moscow and spent four years there raising money for the business school, which was collecting donations for a $15.6 million building. Most of the donations for that were private rather than corporate giving, she said.
While her salary is dependent on the Rasmuson grant at first, Rutherford says ''there's a strong sense of commitment on behalf of the institution to garner private support. If we're successful over the next three years, I think the institution will support this.''
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