Part Three: Full interview with U of M fundraising chairman Lou Nanne

  • Updated: January 14, 2014 - 10:28 PM

"I’m a Gemini and I guess I’m a Gemini because I have restless energy."

Part Three: A transcript from an interview with the Star Tribune’s Dennis Brackin and Lou Nanne, chairman of the University of Minnesota’s $190 million athletics fundraising campaign:

Q: $190 million is ambitious. Is it realistic?

A: Oh yes, are you kidding me? Of course. I mean $190 million, what did they do in the academic, raise $1.2 billion? These schools are raising billions. Northwestern raised $200 million [for athletics], why can’t we raise $190? There you go with that small thinking again. This is what’s happened. This is exactly what’s happened.

Q: No because I’ve always been shocked being here that the University hasn’t raised the kind of money it needs. That surprises me, in this market.

A: It surprises me, too. Especially when we sit here with a very successful, philanthropic populous with many major Fortune 500 companies, this should not happen. This should not happen.

Q: Shouldn’t have fallen this far behind?

A: No, should not happen. I sit across here looking out my window and say, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Please. I go to that little town in Ann Arbor and I see everything they got and I say, ‘What the hell is going on here?’

Q: Or West Lafayette, or Iowa City or Champagne, Illinois.

A: You know what happened, I personally think and I think it’s a big benefit to have professional sport teams here because it helps you in recruiting, if I’m an athlete I want to come watch these things,. But I think that the focus got away from the university when those pro sport teams came here. I think the focus came away and we never got it turned back to us. Now it’s time to turn it back. The university is not going anywhere. Other teams can always threaten to leave, we’re not going anywhere. We aren’t going anywhere.

Q: How many hours a week are you putting into this?

A: I don’t even think about it.

Q: A lot?

A: It all depends. If I have writers from the Tribune coming over, then a long time. I mean that’s not even a question I concern myself with. I’ve always had the good fortunate of being able to do a lot of things. I’m a Gemini and I guess I’m a Gemini because I have restless energy and I can’t do one thing.

Q: Are you satisfied where you are right now? What has the start been like?

A: Very encouraging because of the willingness of people to want to help. I’m really blown away. I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘Can I be on your committee?’ Which you just don’t expect. I’m excited that people want this thing to work. I’m excited that people think it can work. I’m excited that people think it should work and I guess I’m seeing the same feeling when you talk about it, that they’re tired and had enough of the stuff that we can’t compete. We’re Minnesota, when Minnesota does well people revel in it all across the world, people rejoice in it. People who lived in Minnesota, they take pride in it. I’m excited in the fact that people now finally realize we have to do something here to make this thing better.

Q: Do you specific events planned to raise money?

A: You’re not going to get what you need, I’ve had people call about putting on golf tournaments. I said, ‘Thank you,’ and we’ll do it if you want to run it I’ll do it and make a contribution, that’s fine. But you don’t get to $190 million by just fundraising events. You get to $190 million by people and corporations deciding, ‘I want to make this thing better for the state of Minnesota.’

Q: What’s your basic mode of raising money?

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