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An Extraordinary Year

Memorial Belltower lit up red
Memorial Belltower lit up in red for a special occasion.

NC State experienced another outstanding fundraising year, as its Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign continues to transform all aspects of campus life and power the university’s strong momentum.

For the 2017-18 fiscal year that ended June 30, the university received $215.4 million in gifts and new commitments, a total that is second in NC State history only to the $224 million raised in 2016-17.  Cash receipts, or “cash in the door,” hit the highest-ever threshold, at $165.1 million – the seventh straight year that figure exceeded $100 million.

The fiscal year’s giving highlights included:

  • the creation of 104 new scholarship and fellowship funds (425 total during the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign);
  • the establishment of six new distinguished professorships (75 out of 203 endowed faculty positions campuswide have been established during the Campaign);
  • and the best fiscal year fundraising totals ever for the College of Education and the College of Engineering.

NC State publicly launched its most ambitious fundraising effort, the five-year, $1.6 billion Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign, in October 2016. The Campaign is designed to better position the university to create economic, societal and intellectual prosperity for the state and beyond, in perpetuity. Campaign priority areas include extraordinary opportunity, purpose, places, experience and leadership.

Through Aug. 29, the Campaign had raised 84 percent of its goal, or $1.35 billion, including:

  • $639.75 million of $800 million goal for endowment
  • $518.95 million of $600 million goal for current operations
  • $188.58 of $200 million goal for facilities

The Campaign has garnered support from nearly 80,000 donors, who hail from all 100 counties of North Carolina, all 50 states and 62 foreign countries.

The endowment is basically the university’s investment portfolio. Private donors create endowments benefiting particular purposes at NC State, through foundations that support specific colleges or other divisions; these funds are overseen by foundation boards of directors and investment committees.

The university sets minimum funding levels based on endowment purposes. A set amount, or “corpus,” of all endowments is maintained, pooled together as the NC State University Endowment Fund, and invested and managed under strict guidelines and statutes.

Each endowment then produces an annual income for use in the operating budget, designated to be applied to its fund’s particular purpose year after year.

Many endowments support student scholarships and fellowships. Others provide funds to underwrite distinguished professorships or other faculty awards that help attract, support and retain outstanding faculty. Endowments also benefit the work of particular academic colleges or departments, library collections, lecture series, study abroad opportunities, research programs, facilities maintenance and upgrades, and many other needs.

Endowments provide steady, consistent financial support independent of changes in public funding.

Wealthier universities with stronger endowments tend to enjoy better and more up-to-date facilities and technology, and to attract and retain more top faculty, staff and students, and, in turn, more sponsored research funding. They have more to spend on innovation and strategic initiatives.
The larger the endowment, the greater the potential investment return, as well, because of economies of scale and the ability to consider broader and longer-term forms of investments.

“We are seeing an incredible response to our Campaign,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said. “Our supporters are ensuring that higher education remains accessible by providing more opportunities and resources to  more students. They’re strengthening our faculty and its ability to collaborate, innovate and solve the world’s biggest challenges. They’re helping us create new spaces and reinvent other campus facilities, and so much more.

“This level of investment represents tremendous widespread support for this great university, and propels NC State forward toward achieving its full potential. We are certainly grateful.”

At the end of the fiscal year, the university’s endowment stood at $1.3 billion, which places it among the top 100 largest higher-education endowments in the country.

“One of the most exciting and important of the many milestones that donors have helped us reach in the past few years is the growth in our endowment, which is critical to positioning NC State well for the future,” Woodson said. “Robust endowments are the bedrock of all great universities.”

When Woodson was appointed chancellor in April 2010, he made increasing philanthropy generally, and building the endowment specifically, a strategic focus. NC State’s endowment has more than doubled since 2010, when it stood at $503 million, and reached the $1 billion milestone well ahead of Woodson’s goal of achieving that level by 2019. The combination of strong investment performance coupled with extraordinary philanthropy has propelled that growth.   

“I think we are making great progress in continuing to build the culture of philanthropy at NC State across all segments of our campus community, and to increase awareness of what a difference donors are making,” said Brian Sischo, vice chancellor of university advancement. “Alumni and friends are passionate about our university and enthusiastic about NC State’s upward trajectory.

“We’ve also seen gains over the past few years in faculty and staff giving, for example, and in first-time donors. Our student giving has almost tripled over the past couple of years, which sends a powerful message about NC State’s future.”

For the fiscal year, nearly 1,200 current students made a gift.

Donors are having an impact in a range of areas at the university. Among notable gifts during the fiscal year were:

Among other highlights, the Caldwell Fellows, the university’s oldest undergraduate scholarship and leadership program, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Thanks to many alumni and other supporters, the program has impacted nearly 1,400 students.  

Private support also has helped NC State’s Study Abroad Office surpass its 2019 enrollment goals a year early. Data for 2017-18 shows a 53.6 percent increase in total enrollment in study abroad and a 129 percent increase in study abroad by underrepresented students, including first-generation college students and students who are racial or ethnic minorities; the university set a goal in 2014 of increasing each of those measures by 50 percent over five years. 

Since the 2011-12 baseline data year that informed NC State’s goals as a Generation Study Abroad initiative partner, the university has awarded nearly $2 million in study abroad scholarships to 1,333 students, created 20 new study abroad scholarships and more than tripled scholarship funding.

“All across campus, NC State’s momentum is strong. We are proud of the strategic gains that we’re making toward a bigger, bolder future, while remaining true to our land-grant roots and remaining the school of choice for North Carolinians,” Woodson said. “We’re just getting started.”