MSU enjoys 22 percent increase in endowment

Early signs indicate MSU has been growing financially, ranking highly in endowment level growth among Big Ten universities.

MSU’s fiscal year 2010-11 endowment funds increased 22 percent to more than $1.4 billion, compared to more than $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2009-10, and signs indicate university donations also are on the rise.

The university ranks No. 5 in terms of percentage increase in the Big Ten, according to the
initial results of a national survey conducted by the National Association of College and University Business Officers, or NACUBO.

In terms of total endowment dollars, MSU ranks No. 10 in the Big Ten and No. 54 in the country.

Fiscal year 2010 ended June 30, 2010, and fiscal year 2011 ended June 30, 2011.

These dollars allow university officials to support faculty, staff and students for research, student scholarships, study abroad initiatives, equipment for teaching, and other uses, MSU Chief Financial Officer Mark Haas said in an email.

“Given their permanence, endowments assure excellence by making certain that quality teaching, research and outreach can be conducted forever,” he said in the email.

Monetary donations given to MSU by alumni and other independent sources also appear positive, said Bob Groves, vice president for University Advancement.

Although he declined to say how much money has been raised during the current fiscal year 2011-12, he said early indications appear to signal a turnaround in giving. Donations to MSU decreased from $137.5 million in 2009-10 to $125 million in 2010-11.

The fluctuations in endowment levels varies on the economy, Groves said.

“Generally speaking, across the country, major gifts to universities come out of investments, and when investments are down, (donors) are less likely to make very large gifts to the university,” he said, attributing donation levels to various swings in the stock market and other areas of the economy.

Although MSU ranks No. 10 in the Big Ten in terms of total endowment, Groves said he’s satisfied with the university moving up during the course of the decade. For example, MSU’s FY 2001-02 endowment fund according to the NACUBO was about $523 million, about $1 billion less than the current endowment.

Members of MSU Greenline, the student-supported telemarketing branch, raised about $3.6 million in pledged donations during FY 2010-11, said Erica Weiss, a production manager at MSU Greenline.

About $3.5 million was pledged during FY 2009-10, she said.

“We’ve actually seen an increase in both donors and dollars, especially in a down economy,” Weiss said. “That’s what we’re most excited about.”

The organization contacts alumni to keep them engaged with their alma mater, she said, adding that the goal is not just to collect money for MSU, but to inform those people about the latest happenings at the university.

“This is a classic pay-it-forward kind of story,” Groves said. “We will only grow this endowment because others choose to make those contributions.”

And some students, such as human biology and predental sophomore Amanda Corredine, might choose to give.

“I’d like to help the university where I graduated from … (and) help students where they would need the support,” she said.

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