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ETSU Foundation ‘stays the course’ for progress in challenging times

President Brian Noland speaks to Foundation

JOHNSON CITY (May 16, 2013) — While the national and international economies have remained challenging, the East Tennessee State University Foundation demonstrated steady progress over the past year, Foundation members learned during the organization’s annual business meeting today (May 16) at The Millennium Centre.

In remarks by Dr. Richard A. Manahan, ETSU vice president for University Advancement and Foundation CEO/president, the membership heard that the Foundation’s fund balance was over $106.3 million as of March 31.

“As many of you know who were with us from the beginning and stayed the course, the Foundation fund balance in 1981 was a negative $243,758,” Manahan said.  “It is because of all of you who have been with the university and Foundation through our good times and bad.  You have ‘Stayed the Course,’ and that has enabled your Foundation to make steady progress during these challenging times.  We thank you for that.”

Private giving this year is estimated at $13.5 million, including over $3 million pledged to “Enhance, Enrich: The ETSU Arts Initiative,” Manahan said. 

He told the membership that through March, the market value of the Foundation’s and university’s endowments, including the Chairs of Excellence, moved from $100.1 million to $106.6 million, for a total increase of $5.5 million, or 5.1 percent, for the current fiscal year compared to FY 2011-12.  Presently, there are 495 endowments in the ETSU Foundation that support scholarships and educational enhancements for students, faculty and staff. 

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) endowment study, which ranks ETSU 404 out of 843 participating institutions, based on endowment value, reported the ETSU Foundation’s investment rate of return at 10.8 percent as of March 31.  “This is an indication of the Foundation’s successful conservative investment and sound management policies,” Manahan said.

He pointed out that the Foundation’s endowment reserve policy is 20 percent of the endowment principal, a rule that was established to assure continuous funding for future distribution.  He said the Foundation is currently at 11.5 percent, which will allow the current payout rate of 4 percent to continue for 2013-14.  

ETSU remains a leader in private giving among colleges and universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) system, Manahan reported.  “The TBR’s goal for private giving among four-year colleges and universities is 5 percent of an institution’s budgeted educational and general expenditures (E&G),” he said.  “ETSU’s five-year average for private giving compared to E&G is 10.2 percent, compared to the four-year colleges’ and universities’ average of 8.92 percent.”  The TBR is the sixth largest system of higher education in the nation.

Foundation dollars continue to expand scholarship, teaching, research and service opportunities.  Manahan noted that over $2 million in scholarships were awarded to more than 1,000 students in 2012-13.  The Foundation has provided more than $10.4 million in scholarships to 4,872 students in the past six years.

Fundraising for the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy now exceeds $12.5 million from nearly 1,200 donors from throughout the region and beyond, Manahan reported, noting that $3.5 million remains to be raised to reach the total goal of $16 million.  Scholarship endowments for the college exceed $794,000, with an additional $570,000 in planned gifts yet to come for future pharmacy scholarships.

Gifts and committed funds to the Roan Scholars Leadership Program now total over $7.1 million, including $2.4 million in planned gifts.  This program began in the fall of 1997 under the leadership of benefactor Louis Gump and will admit its 14th class this fall.  Manahan said the goal is to establish a $10 million endowment for the Roan Scholars program.

“This very important program is a shining example of ETSU’s commitment to the future of this region by emphasizing a leadership-focused educational experience for the Roan Scholars,” he said.

In addition, scholarship endowments for the ETSU Honors College exceed $1.3 million, Manahan reported.  Originally established in 1992 as the ETSU Foundation Honors Program with the Woodrow W. and Margaret T. Catherman Scholarship endowment, the Honors College was created in 2005 and provides a wide array of quality educational experiences for qualified students, including study abroad, undergraduate research, performing and fine arts opportunities, Midway Scholars, honors-in-discipline, Harvard Model United Nations participation and internships in Washington, D.C., through The Washington Center.

Loyal giving to the Foundation from ETSU faculty, staff and retirees continues, with 970 employees contributing over $2.1 million over the past five years.  This year’s gifts already exceed $347,000.  “This unified commitment to the betterment of the university will assist ETSU in achieving its mission and demonstrates the strong commitment of the faculty and staff to this university,” Manahan said.

Planned gift pledges to the ETSU Legacy Circle have exceeded $53.5 million since the program’s inception in 2001, with over 270 donors indicating that the ETSU Foundation is included in their estate or financial planning through wills, charitable remainder trusts, life insurance or other methods.  This year, pledges of more than $3.1 million have been received.

Manahan noted that ETSU is in the ninth year of Reaching Higher, a non-traditional, comprehensive, needs-based, 10-year capital campaign.  

“To date, private giving exceeds $131.6 million,” he said.  “This is 90.8 percent of the private fundraising goal of $144.9 million.

“This campaign encompasses an evolving list of projects reflecting the direction of the university as it creates new programs; enriches academic, athletic and educational opportunities; and meets the vision of the university’s internal and external constituents, while enhancing the economic development of the region.  (It) focuses on quality education, endowment growth, health sciences and athletics.”

Dr. Steve Conerly, treasurer of the Foundation, reported that for the 26th consecutive year the Foundation achieved an “unqualified” audit report without any findings or recommendations.  Manahan said the audit report “is a demonstration of the integrity and dedication of the Board of Directors and ETSU personnel in managing the private funds entrusted to the Foundation.”

Roger Kennedy, chair of the Foundation, expressed appreciation for the work done by the Foundation membership in 2012-13.

“We have had some great fundraising years with your continued leadership and support,” he said.  “Thanks, again, to you, our alumni and friends, who in partnership with our faculty and staff, contribute to enrich the ‘Margin of Excellence.’”