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Office of the PResident

Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D. - 8/15/07

Fundraising's Vital Role

Increasingly, colleges and universities across the country are relying on private philanthropy to fill the financial gap between mediocrity and excellence.

This was long considered an important part of the mission of private universities; now public universities are becoming major players in the fundraising world. It is commonplace for public universities to complete $2 billion campaigns, as has recently been the case at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington, to name just two.

How much more room is there for competitive growth in this arena? It is hard to say with precision.

Washington State University will soon officially close its books on successfully raising more than $80.2 million in private gifts, grants, and pledges during the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

Among the many notable gifts to WSU during FY2007 was a commitment of $500,000 from alumnus Larry Culver ('64 Hospitality Business Management) and his wife, Vickie, to create the Larry and Vickie Culver Hospitality Fund in WSU's School of Hospitality Business Management. The gift will fund a liaison position between the school and the hospitality industry who will serve as an alumni and internship coordinator for the school, helping to place the school's students with hospitality organizations.

Last fall, Scott Carson ('72, Business Administration), and his wife, Linda, established the Carson International Business Scholars Fund with a gift of $1 million. The fund will provide need-based scholarships to students participating in College of Business international education initiatives.

Ground-breaking research at WSU also benefits from private support. Earlier this year, a team of sleep and neuroscience researchers from Washington State University's Pullman and Spokane campuses received a $1.5 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation. The grant enables innovative research that promises to revolutionize the scientific study and conceptualization of human sleep and performance.

Finally, the WSU Foundation's endowment grew by more than 20.3 percent ($53.4 million) during the last fiscal year to reach a record $316.7 million. One-third of the total endowment is designated specifically to support scholarships, providing more than $4 million each year to fund thousands of merit-, need-, diversity-, and student-athlete-based scholarships university-wide.

These are significant milestones for the university and I am indebted to all of our generous alums, friends, foundations, corporations, faculty, staff and other supporters and benefactors.

This is a fabulous start as we continue to ramp up our fund-raising efforts in the years ahead. I will continue to rely on you to invest in WSU for our academic future depends on your generosity.

I remain convinced that the legislature will continue its strong investment in the core functions of the university. However, if WSU is truly to become world class in all we do, it will require private gifting. We are well positioned to become one of the leading land-grant universities in the nation. This is my vision for the future and I know that it is shared by all of you.

I am off now to meet with a donor - I suspect that there will be a match between our priorities and the donor's interest in us. Wish me luck!