Looking for a unique gift for that hard-to-please person on your Christmas list, that special someone who's too prime for perfume, too tired of ties or too old for Nintendo? The University of Maryland has just the thing: A business school.
They'll even engrave it for you. In fact, that's just the point.
And it only will set you back $10 million.
Officials in College Park are searching for a donor to kick in at least $10 million to help pay for the new building to house the university's decades-old business school and to fund an endowment for the school. In return, University of Maryland officials will name the business school after its benefactor.
This is a common fund-raising technique in academic circles -- some schools even discreetly publish price lists for potential donors who would like to see their names on ivied halls -- but Maryland has given the practice a new twist by suggesting the Christmas gift angle. "Just imagine the reaction when he or she opens your card and finds enclosed a photograph of a four-storied architectural delight, and there, chiseled in stone over the building's entrance, his or her name!" the school said in a press release.
Sure beats a fruitcake.
Maryland has been looking for a patron for the school for about 18 months, and though it is talking to three prospects, said Dean Rudy Lamone, it never hurts to expand the field of possible givers, especially in a slumping economy.
"There are several candidates, but it takes a lot of work and hand-holding and strategy to close the deal," Lamone said. "I feel quite confident that we'll be able to find a person who will be able to provide the endowment." Lamone said he expects the process to take a couple more years; the new business school building is scheduled to open in 1992.
By the way, don't think that you can wait for some after-Christmas sale: While the school is willing to name classrooms after donors of smaller amounts and has raised $3 million that way, Lamone said, "The $10 million is the minimum we need for naming the school."