Record performance for UND Alumni Association & Foundation Endowment Fund

The fund is up nearly 60 percent in five years, reports CEO DeAnna Carlson Zink in her State of the UNDAAF Address

The UND Alumni Association & Foundation announced this week that its endowment fund reached a value of $366.1 million at the end of fiscal year 2021 on June 30.

“That’s a record amount for this vital tool that establlishes a legacy of giving far into the future,” said DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UNDAAF, during her State of the UNDAAF Address on Tuesday. “The payout from the endowment over the past five years has been almost $43 million.”

The endowment fund grows through donations and stock market gains. Each year a percentage is paid out from the fund for donor-directed uses such as scholarships, department programming, or faculty retention.

Carlson Zink also announced that alumni and friends of UND gave $64.4 million during fiscal year 2021. While that doesn’t equal the record $80.1 million donated in FY20, it’s the third-highest yearly total ever, and brings the total giving over the past three years to $212.2 million.

“We are so very thankful that we have so many alumni and friends of this university who want to do good in the lives of UND students each and every day,” said Carlson Zink.

Other FY21 highlights announced at the Address include:

• 9,886 gifts

• 709 new donors (including UND President Andy Armacost and his wife, Kathy, who were recognized for their giving)

• $22.6 million earmarked for programs and faculty, a 250% increase over FY20

Today’s State of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation Address was attended by more than 100 people at the Gorecki Alumni Center with more than 200 people joining via livestream. The Address can be accessed above or on the UNDAAF’s YouTube page, and a transcript is below.

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Teddy Roosevelt impersonator Joe Wiegand speaks on videotape as part of the 2021 State of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation Address. YouTube screenshot.

Theodore Roosevelt impersonator (Joe Wiegand): It may be true that “he travels farthest who travels alone”; but the goal thus reached is not worth reaching. And as for a life deliberately devoted to pleasure as an end, why the greatest happiness is the happiness that comes as a byproduct of striving to do what must be done.

Even though sorrow is met in the doing, there is a bit of homely philosophy, which sums up one’s duty in life: do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are. Bully!

DeAnna Carlson Zink: Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are. The 26th President of the United States was making a point about a life well lived in his autobiography.

Teddy Roosevelt talked about the importance of family, and how having children made everything else lose importance by comparison.

And he talked about the importance of happiness coming from doing what needed to be done.

Welcome to the State of the UND Alumni Association and Foundation address. Thank you so much for being here in person with us today. And thank you to those of you who are joining us by live stream.

Before we go any further, I want to take a moment to thank our three sponsors for today. First of all, the University of North Dakota: President Armacost, thank you for being a part of this day.

The city of Grand Forks: Mayor Bochenski, so nice of you to join us, and thank you for being a sponsor.

And also, Happy Harry’s Bottleshop.

These partnerships are critical to what we can do on a day-to-day basis for the University of North Dakota.

Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are. Teddy is encouraging us to do good. And I’m very thankful that we have so many alumni and friends of this university who take that to heart.

They do good in the lives of our UND students each and every day.

Even during a pandemic, that did not change. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, alumni and Friends committed $64.4 million to this outstanding University.

If you’ll remember, we set a record with more than $80 million in commitments in fiscal year 2020. So that means over the past 24 months, $144.5 million has been given to benefit the University of North Dakota.

Thank you.

In this YouTube screenshot, DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation, delivers the 2021 State of the UNDAAF Address.

It is truly amazing to see what our University alumni and friends are doing for students.

And in addition to the $144.5 million over the last two years, this fiscal year, we raised nearly 10,000 gifts that were made for students. And 709 of those gifts were from first-time donors.

Now, we have someone here today who recently gave their first gift to the university. And I want to recognize them by giving them this teddy bear. Did you know that the first teddy bear was made to honor Theodore Roosevelt after he refused to kill a bear that was tied to a tree?

Well, this bear celebrates Teddy’s wisdom by sporting a T-shirt that says, “Do good. UND Proud.”

And Andy Armacost, this teddy bear is for you and Kathy as a token of appreciation.

Thank you for being part of the effort to do good for UND students!

Speaking of doing good, our donors earmarked $13.6 million for scholarships this past year, and nearly $23 million for programs and facilities.

That is a 250 percent increase from the previous year.

And we have even more exciting news about our UND endowment. The fund finished the fiscal year at $366 million. That’s a record amount for this vital tool that establishes a legacy of giving far into the future.

The payout from the endowment over the past five years has been almost $43 million. Now, I may be biased, but the University of North Dakota has always been one of the most beautiful campuses in the region. And thanks to the generosity of donors, the foresight of current students – I see our President Kaelan Reedy is here – campus leadership and state lawmakers (and we have a number of them here today), because of your foresight, the UND campus is really undergoing a renaissance of sorts.

The recent changes really started back with the new School of Medicine & Health Sciences Building and the addition to the School of Law.

But the pace of change has really accelerated in the last two years.

The new Memorial Union is open to students this semester. This stunning building is courtesy of UND students themselves, who voted in 2018 to raise fees in order to replace the old union.

Many of the students who voted are not even here to see its completion. But they chose to create a better Union for students who follow in their footsteps.

They wanted to do good.

The Chester Fritz library has an entirely new entrance that harkens back to its original design, when it was built in the 1950s thanks to a $1 million donation from Chester Fritz.

But the entrance is not the only improvement. Over the past three years, nearly $17 million of renovations have been done on the library. The projects have been paid for with dollars from a long-time endowment fund through bonding, and also UND’s own building funds.

The Gershman Graduate Center has been painstakingly restored to its 1902 glory. And while the main floor maintains that era’s look and social function, the rest of the building now serves as a place for graduate students to relax, collaborate and study.

A $3 million gift from Kathy and Hal Gershman saved this building. The Gershman gift qualified for a state match of $1.5 million. And now as Hal says, everything old is new again.

A generous gift from Hal, ’66, and Kathy Gershman (above), has transformed the original president’s home on campus for use as an engagement center for graduate students. Image courtesy of Korrie Wenzel, Grand Forks Herald.

Kathy Gershman: The space is less than what a newer building would have. But what the center might lack in square footage, we believe it more than makes up in beauty and warmth.

Hal Gershman: So as you’ll soon see, we not only embrace the past history of this beautiful home on the first floor, we also embrace the future in the meeting and study spaces on the other floors.

DeAnna Carlson Zink: Right next to the Gershman Graduate Center is the Nistler College of Business and Public Administration building, scheduled for completion next fall.

With their lead gift of $20 million. Werner and Colleen Nistler helped convince the state of North Dakota to provide $20 million in state funding.

Just this year, we celebrated another major gift to the college, with Tom and Connie Middleton donating $5 million to create the Middleton School of Entrepreneurship and Management.

YouTube screenshot of Tom and Connie Middleton, who appear on videotape as part of the State of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation Address .

Tom Middleton: And the objective down the road is to have one of the top programs in the Midwest for entrepreneurship and management. So it’s it’s an exciting initiative.

DeAnna Carlson Zink: The face of campus is changing, thanks to donors, students, lawmakers, and a commitment from our UND leadership team to take this campus to new heights.

UND alumni and friends have been all-stars when it comes to these buildings on campus. Just in the last five years, they’ve committed almost $68 million to facilities.

During this past year, I have been touched by the outpouring of support for our students during the pandemic. You may remember that we undertook two special initiatives as a direct response to the economic and mental toll that the pandemic took on our students: the UND Angel Fund and the Open Door Scholarship program.

The UND Angel Fund is an emergency fund in which students can apply for help with rent, living expenses or whatever their financial burden might be.

Over the past 14 months or so, our alumni and friends have contributed more than $225,000 to this fund. More than 330 students have been helped, with the average grant being about $700.

So that’s the good news. However, on the other hand, the fund is completely depleted. And there are 750 outstanding requests for help right now.

So we are going to continue on with our fundraising efforts for the Angel Fund.

The Open Door Scholarship Fund was designed to help students to stay in school during that pandemic and the aftermath. I’m proud to tell you that more than $425,000 has been awarded through this fund, helping more than 250 students from every college across campus.

Now these two programs have been vital for the students that they’ve helped. And we’ve heard from so many who have said that they would not have been able to stay in school if it weren’t for your support.

YouTube screenshot of Laura Gay, donor to the UND Alumni Association & Foundation.

Donors have been moved by the need, including one special example I’d like to share with you now.

Laura Gay spent two years at the University of North Dakota in the early 1940s, before she had to leave school to take care of her sick mother. She married Noble Gay, whom she had met at UND, and they moved to California.

And when she heard about the pandemic needs of our students last year, she gave one gift … and then another gift … and then another gift.

In total, the 94-year-old gave close to $70,000 to the UND Angel Fund and the Open Door Scholarship program. She said at the time, “If somebody needs the money to get through college, I want to help. I know whatever we give is being used in the best way possible.”

I am sad to say that Laura Gay passed away in May of this year, but not before her compassion for UND students was able to shine oh so brightly.

Thank you, Laura Gay, for doing good.

One other group we should thank in particular for their response to these two initiatives are UND faculty,

We were so proud to see so many faculty members step forward to help students in dire need.

And another group of do-gooders on our campus are our student athletes. Earlier this year, we were proud to trumpet the fact that our student athletes committed to serving their community.

During the previous year, they volunteered 5,352 hours of community service, doing everything from providing shoes to schoolchildren, supporting Special Olympians and cleaning up the campus.

YouTube screenshot of Bientu Panoam, a UND athlete whose videotaped remarks are part of the 2021 State of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation Address.

Bientu Panoam: I just think that when I was a kid, my dream was to be a basketball player. So, I’m always looking up or trying to hang around with older people who are in the sport. It’s like, “Oh, I want to be you”: how they impacted me is how I’m trying to impact somebody else.

And that’s why it means a lot to me to help them out.

Katie Bierstedt: When you come onto campus, this is your home for the next four or five years. And it’s really important to me to make a difference where my feet are.

So I think that being able to go out and be active in the community and serve is just a really great way to make that difference and impact Grand Forks and our campus in a better way.

DeAnna Carlson Zink: Our hats are off to these student athletes for their dedication to our community and for living the motto of “Do good.”

Finally, I want to share with you a message from another student who also happens to be an athlete.

Many of you know of Hunter Pinke’s story – how he was paralyzed in a skiing accident, and the inspiration that he has provided to fellow football players and really to everyone who has heard him speak of his faith.

Well, Hunter graduated from UND and is moving on to the next chapter. He is going to pursue a master’s degree in architecture at the University of Arizona. And he’s also taken up competitive wheelchair racing.

Hunter has written a letter to the community that we’d like to share with you for the first time today.

YouTube screenshot of Hunter Pinke, who reads a letter to UND as part of DeAnna Carlson Zink’s 2021 State of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation Address.

Hunter Pinke: Dear UND,

As I reflect over the past five years, I’m filled with a variety of emotions. Joy, sadness, and admiration all have their place, but one stands above the rest: gratitude.

I’m a different person today than when I first got to UND. I’ve learned that adversity can bring about the most substantial change in one’s life. Depending on your response, it can either send you tumbling down a slippery slope of despair, or shoot you upwards on a trajectory toward success.

My adversity helped me grow up. I came to UND as a teenage boy, and I’m leaving a young man. I’m grateful for the changes in my life in the past five years.

Wearing Kelly green with North Dakota across my chest was one of my greatest honors – not because of what I got to do, but rather because of who I got to do it for.

I took so much pride representing UND and the state of North Dakota. This – this is my home. These are my people.

Three FCS playoff appearances, two conference championships and one bachelor’s degree later, I can say that all the hard work was worth it.

I’m grateful to have been a Fighting Hawk student athlete.

I hope when people see my story, they don’t just see a kid in a wheelchair. Instead, I hope they see how powerful faith can be. I hope they see that joy comes with every sunrise, I hope they see how our community helped me take the next step when I couldn’t on my own.

I’m grateful for my story. It would be impossible to repay what you all have given me. I wish I could shake your hand or give you a hug; and maybe someday, I’ll get that opportunity.

But to the UND administration, professors, cooks, janitors and support staff, thank you. To my coaches, teammates and friends, thank you.

To you – UND alumni – thank you. You’ve helped me improve, overcome and grow. I’m grateful for you.

UND, I’m grateful.

Forever UND proud,

Hunter Pinke

DeAnna Carlson Zink: Simple words. But so very powerful from a young man who has endured so much, and yet continues to inspire and lead by his faith and his conviction.

You all are an inspiration to our students as well, through your gifts of time, talent, and treasure. Your desire to do good is simple – but yet, so powerful.

Together, we are building the future of this great University.

We do what we can with what we’ve got, where we are.

We do good. And we are so very thankful and grateful for each of you. Thank you.