Officials announce record donations during last year

by Peter Frost

The University once again cashed in during the latest fiscal year by collecting a record-breaking $134.8 million in donations, officials announced Wednesday.
The University racked up big numbers by riding a nationwide wave of gift-giving to public and private institutions. During the school’s latest fiscal year, July 1998 to June 1999, gifts poured into the school at a rate 58 percent higher than in 1996, a reflection of both the dedication of the school’s donors and the healthy economy.
University alumni were the largest contributors, ringing up $58.4 million, or 43 percent of the total.
Among the alumni were two $10 million contributors: Richard McNamara, a 1956 College of Liberal Arts graduate and the CEO of Bloomington-based Activar Inc., and the late Curtis Carlson, namesake of the Carlson School of Management.
Donations from foundations and corporations were the second-leading source of cash for the University with $45.6 million in contributions, or 34 percent of the total.
Overall, 20 donors pledged $1 million or more.
“The commitment of the community and alumni to the University is just incredible,” said University President Mark Yudof. “One of the most gratifying parts of my job has been working with our donors, who share our dedication to quality teaching, research and outreach.”
All gifts made to the University pass through the University of Minnesota Foundation, which manages fund-raising efforts on the school’s four campuses.
Gerald Fischer, the foundation’s president and CEO, said “this is the second consecutive year that alumni, friends and institutions have supported the University at this historically high level,” referring to the nearly $270 million received in the past two fiscal years.
The generosity of University donors pushed the school’s total endowments, which are fed by investments and donations, to $1.5 billion. The total includes the $229 million Minnesota Medical Foundation, the $665 million University endowment and the $619 million University of Minnesota Foundation endowment.
The University has historically been well supported, ranking at the top of the Big Ten in donations. In 1997, the latest year for which data are available, the University ranked third in yearly donations.
“When someone makes a gift, they usually designate a place for the gift to go, whether it be a certain campus or college, a faculty fund, scholarships or athletics,” said Martha Douglas, University of Minnesota Foundation director of communications.
Some of the gifts go toward the formation of endowments, investments that generate money for University use.
Besides endowments, many monetary gifts to the University go directly to building facilities.
In the current fiscal year, the University collected more than $20 million, half from a $10 million gift from Minnetonka-based Cargill Inc. announced Tuesday.

Peter Frost covers business and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3215.