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November 1, 2002

Institute for Deaf seeks partnership with Washington U.

From: St. Louis Business Journal, MO
Nov. 1, 2002

Margaret Jackson

In an effort to pull Central Institute for the Deaf out of its financial troubles, Bob Clark has been talking with Washington University officials about establishing a formal affiliation with the institution.

Clark, who has been donating his time as CID's executive director since Don Nielsen retired in May, wants to solve the organization's financial problems by the end of January, when he intends to return to his company, Clayco Construction Co. However, if no solution is in place, Clark will stay at CID.

CID was founded in 1914 to address problems caused by deafness. The institute, located at 4560 Clayton Ave. in the Central West End, has four components: an oral school for deaf children; a graduate program; biological and applied research; a hearing and speech clinic. Sixty-seven students are currently enrolled in the school.

CID's alliance with Washington University Medical Center was formed on a handshake in 1931 when the institute began operating the Department of Speech and Hearing for the university — a relationship that continues today, said Joni Westerhouse, a spokeswoman for the university. Even though CID is affiliated with the university, it is financially independent. Scientists at CID and Washington University School of Medicine also collaborate on research projects.

"We've discussed becoming more affiliated with Washington University, but we have no deal or concrete proposal or letter of intent at this point," Clark said. "It's too early to announce. We've never taken anything to our board of directors, and they've never taken anything to their board."

Westerhouse declined to comment on the discussions between CID and the university.

A closer affiliation with Washington University is not CID's only option, Clark said.

"There are other universities in the marketplace and private research institutions nationwide that we've discussed the possibility of doing things with," said Clark, who declined to identify other organizations he's had discussions with. "The ideal solution would be to keep everything together, but we don't have to keep everything together."

CID's financial difficulties are due, in part, to the sagging economy, which has impacted the amount of income the institute generates on its $30 million endowment, Clark said. The institute has a 10 percent shortfall in its $12 million operating budget this year.

"CID obviously is in a trying, complicated financial time," he said. "Although we have substantial assets in real estate and a substantial endowment, we are not going to be able to operate on a positive cash flow basis because our endowment income is way down."

Earlier this year, Clark put CID's surplus real estate on the market. The College of Health Careers is expected to close in December on its $1.8 million contract to buy CID's 37,089-square-foot building at 909 S. Taylor. CID also put the 22,335-square-foot dormitory at 4533 Clayton Ave. up for sale with an asking price of $2 million.

"We're doing all the things we have to do if nothing happens with anybody else," Clark said. "That money goes into our operating reserve and gives us some breathing room."

Meanwhile, CID has succeeded in raising more than $31 million through its $30 million capital campaign. Started in December 1997 with an anonymous contribution of $10 million, CID's 16-member committee raised $15 million to meet the anonymous donor's challenge gift seven months early. Through the five-year campaign, 550 individuals gave $10.4 million, 42 foundations gave $4.5 million, and 54 corporations gave $6.1 million.

The total includes more than $6.9 million donated by members of the CID board of managers, as well as proceeds from 543 personal tribute bricks, bought and laid at the campus' south entrance, named to honor the work of the late S. Richard Silverman, CID's second director.

The campaign funded the construction of CID's new buildings at the southern edge of the Washington University Medical Center. The 42,000-square-foot oral school provides an optimal environment for deaf and hard-of-hearing children learning to talk; and the 66,000-square-foot Harold W. Siebens Hearing Research Center houses administrative offices, a cafeteria and the Fay and Carl Simons Center for biology and Deafness, which includes laboratories and core facilities.

© 2002 American City Business Journals Inc.