Executive Director Recognizes Endowed Scholarship Efforts
Penn State Alumni Association Executive Director Roger Williams praised Affiliate Alumni Groups for their efforts to sustain and increase Alumni Endowed Scholarship funds.
Five million dollars. That’s the collective value of our affiliate groups’ endowment accounts, a milestone threshold just crossed last June 30. Alumni groups throughout the country raise money to grow these endowments, which primarily support scholarships for Penn State students. But even more exciting than crossing the $5-million mark is that more than $300,000 was contributed to these accounts in the 2008–09 academic year.
The accounts total $5,036,826 to be exact, with more than $318,000 added in the past academic year. That $5-million-plus total is the more conservative “book value,” meaning it’s the sum of all of the contributions the groups—95 in all—have made to their endowments to date. The market value is higher, of course, but it fluctuates daily as investments are wont to do.
This new benchmark is truly exciting news. Alumni affiliate groups (chapters, alumni interest groups, alumni societies, and alumni program groups) have worked hard over the years to establish and grow their scholarship endowments. And we are grateful for that hard work, as are the thousands of students who have benefitted through scholarship money. The growth in the contributions in the last year shows just how hard our affiliate groups are working, and we are confident that they’ll be able to accelerate the growth of their endowments in the years ahead.
In fact, as part of the Alumni Association’s role in the University’s fundraising campaign—For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students—we’ll be recognizing, encouraging, and incentivizing our affiliate groups to do even more to provide the means for future alumni to afford Penn State.
And the need is great. Last year, the unmet financial need of all Penn State students was more than $100 million. That is the balance of need that remains after you strip away all of the scholarships, grants and loans, as well as the “expected family contribution” based on household income and assets.
There are indications that our affiliate groups are willing to step up to meet the challenge.
Last summer, at the request of our Executive Board, we surveyed all of our affiliate groups to ask them about their experiences with scholarship fundraising and endowments and their interest in doing more.
When the 68 groups that reported having scholarships were asked if they were interested in increasing their contributions to student scholarships, 64 responded along these lines:
• 60 percent of them responded yes;
• 27 percent responded possibly or that they were unsure;
• only 14 percent responded no.
We learned a lot from the survey. We were reminded that each alumni affiliate group is unique, operating in a unique environment with a unique set of circumstances. A cookie-cutter approach to encouraging them to do more won’t work.
For example, the Greater Scranton chapter is pretty well satisfied with its current scholarship endowment, which finished the year at $64,045. But this chapter also has established two additional endowments, one of which supports the “Pride of Lions Award” and the other of which benefits the chapter’s faculty research endowment for Penn State Worthington Scranton. In addition, the chapter gives out direct scholarships (cash grants) to worthy students and also supports the local campus through considerable donations for building and facilities projects.
The Silicon Valley Chapter in California has a different set of circumstances. The chapter is going through a transition, in which activity is currently at low ebb, but it is in the process of revitalizing and renewing itself. Fortunately, it has a scholarship endowment with a corpus of $54,755, which allows for the support of Penn State students from the Bay Area even though the chapter is not in position to do a whole lot right now. But that’s the true value of a scholarship endowment—it keeps on giving, forever, despite the vicissitudes of the sponsoring organization. It becomes a permanent legacy for the chapter.
Other chapters are too small or unable to raise the $50,000 necessary for a scholarship endowment. But they do what they can, and we are grateful. The Perry-Juniata Chapter in central Pennsylvania is one such chapter. This summer, at its student sendoff picnic, the chapter awarded six $300 cash scholarship grants to six students—one from each of the six high schools in the chapter’s service area. That’s the first time that has ever happened. The chapter was enormously proud of its efforts to help six new Penn State students—and deservedly so.
In any event, over the next several months, the Alumni Association staff will be working with our affiliate groups to see what we can do together to speed the growth of their scholarship endowments. The University’s campaign will kick off publicly in April 2010, and we want to have a plan in place by then. But for now, we celebrate and thank these 35 alumni affiliate groups for all of their efforts on behalf of Penn State students, our future alumni.
For the glory,
Roger L. Williams ’73, ’75g, ’88g