Record settlement funds grad program

by Ada Simanduyeva

The windfall from last fall’s landmark lawsuit settlement with Glaxo Wellcome recently established a new endowment fund that will match private gifts to the University.
The 21st Century Graduate Fellowship Endowment is expected to accumulate $50 million over the next 10 years.
Fellowships assist in the recruitment of outstanding students by providing a $13,200 stipend for the academic year, plus full tuition and health insurance.
“This will match gifts that come from private individuals who are making gifts to support fellowships at the University,” said Martha Douglas, director of communications for the University of Minnesota Foundation. “The idea that their gift will be twice as powerful is a great incentive for directing a gift to graduate fellowships.”
Gifts of $25,000 or more for graduate fellowship funds will be doubled by the fund. Donations made since mid-December will also be matched by the fund.
The money for the fund is the result of a settlement between the University and Glaxo Wellcome, a global pharmaceutical corporation. The company used compounds, created by University professor Robert Vince, to develop the anti-AIDS drug Ziagen. Glaxo Wellcome did not acknowledge Vince’s work, and the University sued the company.
In fall of 1999, an estimated $300 million settlement was reached. The amount is the estimated profits over the next 10 years. The money was divided three ways: one-third of it goes to the University’s pharmacy department, another third to professor Vince and his research associate Mei Hua, and the rest goes to the Graduate School. About half of the Graduate School’s money goes to the new matching fellowship endowment.
Since the sum of money is based on future royalties, there is no exact amount available. However, it is estimated that the next decade will yield the fund $50 million.
Christine Maziar, vice president for research and Graduate School dean, said after an opportunity to review several strategic plans made by the Graduate School and talking to collegiate deans, she understood graduate students need increased support.
The decision for the fund was made in early December, but details were not hammered out until this week.
“The resources just weren’t there, so when litigation with Glaxo Wellcome was behind us and the royalties’ string began, I decided that it would be best to direct this money at what has been identified as the Graduate School’s highest priority, and that was increasing support for graduate students,” Maziar said.
Campaign Minnesota is also involved in supporting fellowship grants. The University is trying to raise $1.3 billion by the end of 2003. The campaign was kicked off in October and has already raised $150 million since then, bringing the total to $778 million. The money will be used toward supporting facility, students, scholarships, grants and research, among other ongoing projects.
More than 180 endowment funds established by private donors currently exist at the University.

Ada Simanduyeva welcomes comments at She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3223.