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

  • Updated: January 14, 2014 - 10:27 PM

"For too long, too often, we just take things as they are and no one really focused on the fact that we were falling behind."

Part One: 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: Pretend I’m a potential donor. Tell me why this project is important and why I should contribute.

A: I think that everybody has looked at the University of Minnesota and just considered the people that donate to the University of Minnesota are alumni and the university is only involved with the alumni. Realistically speaking the University of Minnesota is the engine that drives the state. Its tentacles reach everybody. There’s nothing else, no corporation, foundation or endowment that can reach everybody like the University of Minnesota.

The University of Minnesota might have a great cancer discovery but not everybody is going to have cancer so it doesn’t hit everybody, but the different departments of the university in some way or the other benefit the whole state. The University of Minnesota is the only research institution we have in the whole state, and we have to start looking at it as the jewel of the state — not just for the alumni. For too long people have taken it for granted and I think that has to change. It’s a transformative institution and we have to do something transformative here to make things better for everybody.

Q: So you’re not just focused on the usual suspects, the alumni? You’re trying to expand the donor base?

A: That’s the first thing I said to my committee: Too often everybody just thinks of, ‘What can we get the alumni to contribute to get this done?’ and I said, ‘The University of Minnesota affects everybody in the state.’ I don’t care if you went to Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Robert Morris, North Dakota State, whatever it is. If you’re living in the state of Minnesota you’re benefiting from the University of Minnesota in some way or the other along the term of your life. I just think we should all be proud of it. It’s just like the Minnesota Vikings, the Twins, the North Stars, the Wild now, the Wolves, every time we have athletic success here many people revel in it. Can you imagine 50,000 people coming here when the Detroit series [in 1987] was won by the Twins and the first time in the World Series, you have 50,000 people just to see them come home? That’s what athletics does. It creates emotions and it touches a lot of people. So you have all the different athletic things that we have here, sports that we have here, that makes it a better place for students to come. If you have better students then you have better faculty, you get better educated people, you get better output from the total university and it makes the whole state benefit from it.

Q: I would imagine it’s easy to get a list of potential alumni donors, but how do you find the people you’re talking about top expand it? How do you know where to go?

A: That’s a great question and that’s why we have the leadership council we have because there are people from different walks of life that all have different circles of friends and business involvement and they lead us to these other potential donors and that’s what we need. We need friends of every walk of life. We need friends that know people and corporations that are potential donors for the University of Minnesota, and with their input and our people at the University of Minnesota, hopefully we’re going to be successful.

Q: Tell me about the leadership council. How is this fundraising organization set-up?

A: Well we have an executive committee which is we have 12-14 on the executive committee and we’re just targeting one or two other people there. Then our leadership group is about 45. So the 12-14 will meet every two months and the leadership council will meet every three months. Then we bring people up to date, we ask them for their ideas, their direction, their knowledge, their contacts, and we go from there.

Q: And you’re the guy at the top of the pyramid?

A: I’m the chairman.

Q: How did you decide to take this job?

A: I didn’t decide, I wasn’t looking to decide on this. The president and the athletic director came to meet with me and told me about the project and asked if I’d be involved. I said, ‘Definitely. I’d certainly love to be on your committee.’ They said, ‘No you have to be the chairman.’ I said, ‘No I want to be in the committee and help.’ And they said, ‘No, we want you as chairman.’ So it wasn’t my first choice but I guess I just got to the point, and this is the most important thing that I think about and that I tell people that are on my committee, I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve said, ‘Enough.’ My grandfather used to have a word where I used to screw around and get in trouble or do things I shouldn’t be doing, he’d say, ‘Basta.’ B-A-S-T-A. That’s the Italian word for enough. Enough. I thought of that when they asked me. I said, ‘You know I’ve had enough.’ I’ve had enough of hearing that the University of Minnesota can’t compete. I’ve had enough of hearing the University of Minnesota can’t recruit. I’ve had enough of hearing all these reasons why other places are going to succeed and we can’t. I guess I’m just fed up with it. I’m frustrated by it. I’m upset about hearing that. I think more than anything I just, maybe it’s my competitive side, more than anything I’ve gone around, had the good fortune to follow the Gopher football team, and I’ve gone to these other places in the Big Ten, and I see these other places in the Big Ten and I say, ‘Why can they do it, and why can’t we?’ There’s no reason why we can’t. That’s where I got myself into this deal.

Q: Where do you think Minnesota ranks in athletic facilities in the Big Ten?

A: Jim Delaney was just in town and met with my leadership council and he told us we’re last, which we knew. I’m not making it up. All you have to do is just travel over there and you see it’s just a joke. It’s ridiculous.

Q: So you’ve personally seen that? Last in the Big Ten?

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
New England 14 FINAL
Kansas City 41
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Calgary
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close