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Miami seeks to increase endowments

By LibMueller
On November 5, 2012

Miami University's focus on increasing revenues and cutting costs under the recommendations of the Strategic Priorities Task Force (SPTF) has led the university to step up efforts to generate endowments to provide more financial aid to students.

Scholarship endowments are financial gifts from donors which are then invested. Scholarships are then funded from the interest earned on the principal donated.

Brent Shock, director of student financial assistance said scholarship endowments save Miami money.

"Because there are some scholarships that are awarded from the university's budget, we would instead utilize scholarships from donors to offset that figure," Shock said.

According to the SPTF's final report, the university's campaign for capital gifts has resulted in the addition of facilities to the university that benefit students. However, capital gifts require a match from the university (which includes operating costs) while endowments provide long-term support, according to the report.

Associate Vice President for University Advancement Brad Bundy said capital gifts and endowments, serve different purposes.

"Capital gifts are those that are used for current needs of the university, everything from money that is used to help build buildings, renovate facilities or used for equipment," Bundy said. "It is money that is given for the purpose of spending immediately for the pressing needs of the university."

Bundy said endowed funds are different than capital gifts.

"Endowed funds are gifts that are given that are then invested and then annually, a percentage of the income that is generated is spent on the needs of the university," Bundy said.

The SPTF's final report specifically recommended the university focus on expanding endowments for scholarships. Bundy said the SPTF wanted University Advancement to address what it considered to be the most pressing need, which was providing scholarships to students.

"[The SPTF] wanted us to raise approximately $50 million over a five year period of time (by 2015) for endowed scholarships," Bundy said.

Bundy said the university relies heavily on alumni for this kind of support.

According to Bundy, University Advancement is on track to meet that goal by 2015. Miami is also on track to meet the year three goal of $9.6 million.

Shock said so far this year, grants, loans and scholarships from federal, state and institutional programs total about $95 million.

Shock said scholarships come from different sources, including alumni, donors and the university.

According to Bundy, 55 percent of all of the outside money that comes into Miami in terms of private gifts comes from alumni.

Bundy said there is also a training program for faculty to involve them in the fundraising process.

"On Monday [Nov. 5], we have actually brought in an outside fundraising training organization to help us train about 70 faculty and deans at the Marcum Center," Bundy said. "What we've done is work with the provost and the deans to identify that top faculty and administrators that would have the most impact to help fundraising efforts."

The SPTF's report also said the ability to offer more financial aid increases Miami's competitiveness with other schools and allows it to successfully compete for the best students.

Sophomore Eric Lee said he thinks the university's effort to provide more financial aid to students does give it a competitive edge.

"Miami's one of the more expensive public schools in Ohio, so more scholarships is a good thing," Lee said. "It really encourages the best and the brightest to come to Miami because scholarships can be a determining factor for a lot of people."

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