Foundation raises $62M for awards

The amount completes 41 percent of the foundation’s $150 million goal.

by Anna Weggel

The University Foundation is working toward doubling the number of students who receive private scholarships.

Through its Promise of Tomorrow scholarship drive, the foundation has raised $62 million since the campaign began in July 2003.

This amount completes 41 percent of the foundation’s goal of $150 million, making it possible to help 50 percent more students to receive privately funded scholarships.

Martha Douglas, the foundation’s director of communications, said approximately 4,500 students receive privately funded scholarships, averaging approximately $2,500 for each a year.

Douglas said that so far, approximately 300 more students have been helped than in previous years.

“We will see the most effect a few years down the road,” she said. “The increase isn’t real significant, yet.”

Douglas said that although it might take a few years to see any big changes, things are “definitely going in the right direction.”

To encourage donations, Douglas said, the foundation meets with alumni and potential donors, advertises by phone and mail, and includes articles in University publications.

Douglas said that along with the drive, a program called the President’s Scholarship Match doubles the amount of money that comes out of invested scholarships each year.

This way, if a person or company makes a sizeable donation, it is invested, and 5 percent is used each year toward scholarships. The University matches the 5 percent, and any extra earnings from the investment are put back into the fund.

She said the match helps motivate people to donate money toward scholarships.

Douglas said these scholarships have an enormous impact on students.

“We hear from students who tell us they couldn’t come to the University if they didn’t have scholarship help,” she said.

Douglas said the scholarships also help the University compete with other institutions for talented students.

Gerald Fischer, president and chief executive officer of the foundation, said he is thrilled with the drive’s progress.

He said the foundation is raising approximately double the amount it would raise in a typical year.

“It’s an ongoing effort, and we’re talking to donors all the time,” he said. “We’re planting seeds that we hope will come to flourish as donors think about it.”

Fischer said he had a similar experience with a graduate school fellowship he is very thankful for.

“(Scholarships) lighten your load of having to work or your debt load, and they open doors of opportunity,” he said. “It’s like a power boost in your life – it uplifts you as a student.”

Fischer said he hears stories and collects thank-you notes from students who benefited from the scholarships.

“These are powerful and emotional stories about how this financial assistance changed their whole life,” he said.

Mary Hicks, College of Liberal Arts director of external relations, deals with raising money for the college from private sectors.

She said most people donate because they feel they want to give something back to the University.

“They really appreciate and value the experience that they had at this institution, and they want to make sure students have an opportunity to have a similar experience,” she said.