It's been 10 months since Miami University announced its funding campaign to raise its endowment to $1 billion. Since then, the fund has exceeded $730 million.
In October 2022, the university announced its “For love. For honor. For those who will” campaign, which will invest in four areas: scholarship, business and entrepreneurship, Clinical Health Sciences, and Digital Innovation and Technology. It will be the largest endowment in Miami’s history.
Bruce Guiot, chief financial officer of the Miami University Foundation, said the endowment fund grew from $450 million in 2014 to $730 million — a more than 60% increase.
The growth doesn’t just come from donors, but also from investments made with the donations that aren’t fully spent every year.
“By not spending everything that we earn in one year, it allows us to have some earnings to spend in years when we have losses rather than having nothing to spend that year,” Guiot said.
The unspent donations are put into an investment fund overseen by the Miami University Foundation Investment Committee. The committee has governance over what the funds are invested in, which allows Miami to plan for bad economic years.
“We have engaged with an outside investment firm and our Investment Committee has established an investment policy [with them],” Guiot said. “There are various types of investments: stocks, bonds, commodities.”
The funds that are being invested are both spendable gifts and endowed gifts. Spendable gifts can be used however the university sees fit, while endowed gifts can only be used how the donor has described. Guiot said Miami receives thousands of spendable gifts a year and “maybe 100” endowed gifts.
“To establish an endowment we're looking for at least a $25,000 commitment,” Guiot said. “And generally they're larger than that. Whereas, spendable gifts could be $1, could be $50 or $100.”
About 49% of the endowed gifts go toward student scholarships, Guiot said. These funds are then dispersed through the Enrollment Management and Student Success (EMSS) department.
Brent Shock, vice president of EMSS, oversees scholarship allocation. With endowed gifts having specific parameters, awarding scholarships is like a game of connect the dots.
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“Most of those funds have gift criteria that the donor set up,” Shock said. “So it might be something like a student from [X] county in Ohio, or a student with a certain GPA, or a student pursuing a major or it can just be in general a student from [the Farmer School of Business] or [College of Arts and Sciences].”
Shock said that within his department, workers take pride in helping students afford Miami.
“We take a very hands-on approach here at Miami,” Shock said. “We live out what we believe, the code of love and honor and that we care deeply about our students. We're working to do everything we can do.”
Brad Bundy, vice president for University Advancement, did not respond to requests for comment.