Endowment fund sets new record
The fund now exceeds $380 million, notes DeAnna Carlson Zink in her State of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation Address
The UND Alumni Association & Foundation saw its endowment fund grow to a record $380.4 million during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2023 (FY 23). The record level was announced at the State of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation Address, which was made by DeAnna Carlson Zink, the association and foundation’s CEO, on Tuesday, Aug. 22.
The endowment is twice the size it was just 10 years ago.
“That is remarkable,” said Carlson Zink of the record size of the endowment. “It is a testament to new endowments adding dollars to the fund and the prudent and fiscally responsible management of that fund by our Board of Directors.”
A full transcript of Carlson Zink’s remarks is below. A video of the address can be watched at the Alumni Association & Foundation’s YouTube.com page.
The UNDAAF Endowment Fund is made up of more than 1,900 endowments established by donors over the years. The University’s first endowment dates to the 1940s and still provides a scholarship to this day. An endowment is created by a gift that is invested to generate consistent income that can be used annually to fund scholarships, programs, or other campus needs.
The UNDAAF Endowment Fund also had a record payout for support of almost $12 million during FY 23. The five-year payout is just shy of $50 million.
Other highlights of FY 23:
• Donations and commitments of $55.2 million
o The fifth-highest total ever
o Total of $340 million over past five years
• 8,160 donors, including 1,206 first-time donors
Carlson Zink used the discovery this summer of foundation bricks from the University’s first building to drive home a point about the importance of donors in UND’s history. “Just as the brick-makers’ fingerprints can be found on the bricks that formed Old Main, our alumni and donors’ fingerprints are all over this great University,” she said.
“From scholarships that open doors to buildings that facilitate growth, from faculty empowerment to the nurturing of programs, our dedicated donors are the driving force behind the University of North Dakota’s past achievements, present successes, and the bright promise of the future.”
The following is a transcript of DeAnna Carlson Zink’s State of the UND Alumni Association & Foundation Address, Aug. 22, 2023:
Good afternoon and welcome to the 2023 University of North Dakota Alumni Association & Foundation Address.
We are excited to have students back on campus for the start of the 2023-24 academic year … and we are so thrilled to have all of you with us today in person as well as those joining us via our livestream. Welcome!
Before we get started, I would like to thank the sponsors of today’s Address:
Happy Harry’s Bottle Shops, the city of Grand Forks, and the University of North Dakota.
We appreciate and value your partnership.
There is a lot of UND history on this stage today. Not only am I a 1986 graduate of this exceptional university and have worked most of my career as part of the Alumni Association & Foundation team, but here are some of the original Old Main bricks that were discovered during construction work on campus this summer.
It is fascinating to imagine the work that went into the creation of these bricks 140 years ago … to think about how clay taken from a local quarry would have been hand-formed into bricks, sun-dried, kiln fired and delivered from the brick plant near Minto to a barren field outside of Grand Forks.
There, not far from where we meet today, each brick was combined with others by skilled masons to steadily build what would become the largest building in the Dakota Territory.
Could those townspeople who gathered for the laying of the cornerstone 140 years ago have imagined what that one lone building would become … that 14 decades later, the campus now boasts around 170 buildings on 520 acres!
Could they have ever envisioned the impact this university would have on its graduates and the world at large? From eight graduates in 1889 to over 150,000 alumni today, the growth and impact have been remarkable.
All this from the vision of UND’s founders and the sweat equity of those who turned individual bricks into halls of scholarship and learning.
Just as a foundation is a fundamental part of any structure, our alumni and friends are the cornerstone of UND’s success. It is through your unwavering support, passion, and contributions that we continue to flourish … now and into the future.
But while buildings may have a finite existence, the legacy of endowment gifts to the UND Foundation is everlasting.
Let me take a moment to talk about what an endowment is. We live and breathe this every day, so sometimes we forget that not everyone has the same information we do.
An endowment is a gift that is invested to generate consistent income that can be used on an annual basis to fund scholarships, programs, or other needs. The beauty of an endowment is its ability to grow over time and provide support well into the future.
UND’s oldest endowment
In fact, the oldest academic endowment in the United States was established at Harvard in 1721 and has helped fund a faculty chair ever since.
The oldest endowment at the University of North Dakota is the Larry S. Schlasinger Memorial Endowment. It was established in 1945 in honor of Larry, who was killed in action during World War II. It provides a scholarship to a student studying communications to this day.
I have my own experience with a scholarship endowment. As a student at UND in 1984, I was privileged to receive the Matthew Butler Scholarship. I have never forgotten what that scholarship meant to me as a student from small-town Northwestern Minnesota. I’ve also never forgotten the names associated with it. And, interesting side note, Matt’s daughter, Twylah Blotsky, now serves on our Board of Directors!
The Butler Endowment is one of more than 1,900 endowments that are all part of our overall UND Foundation endowment, which we invest to help the fund grow.
I am thrilled to report that in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, our endowment rose to a record level of $380.4 million!
That is double the endowment’s size of just 10 years ago!
That is remarkable … especially considering the less-than-stellar growth in the stock market during the previous year.
It’s a testament to new endowments adding dollars to the fund and the prudent and fiscally responsible management of that fund by our Board of Directors.
One of the areas where endowments make an incredible impact is in faculty support.
I’m proud to announce that over the past two years, we have added 13 faculty endowments to push our total number of endowed faculty positions at UND to 59!
An endowment provides long-term financial support for a distinguished professor or academic leader. It ensures a stable source of funding for the position’s salary, research activities, and other support.
Endowed faculty positions attract and retain top-tier educators and researchers, enhancing the academic reputation of the institution. They foster excellence in teaching, research, and innovation, enabling faculty members to pursue groundbreaking projects and mentor students.
Dr. Simona Barbu holds the Rick and Jody Burgum Endowed Chair of Music in the College of Arts & Sciences.
She is a wonderful example of the lasting impact that an endowed faculty position can have on the intellectual and scholarly vitality of the campus community.
Bottom line: endowed faculty positions allow UND to attract and retain exceptional educators and scholars like Simona. These distinguished professors bring expertise, experience, and cutting-edge knowledge to the classroom, providing students with top-tier instruction and mentorship.
We will be celebrating our endowed faculty at a ceremony in this room tomorrow afternoon.
It starts at 4:30 p.m. and I extend an invitation to all of you to come and help us honor our endowed faculty members and the alumni and friends who have funded their endowments.
Getting back to our record endowment performance in FY 2023, I want to mention a couple of other facts before moving on to other points of interest.
With a record performance, we also had a record payout for support from the endowment of almost $12 million.
The five-year payout from the endowment is just shy of $50 million … That’s $50 million for scholarships, faculty positions, program support and more over just the last five years.
So, let’s move forward and talk about some other highlights from this past fiscal year.
Our fundraising total from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023 was just over $55 million.
This stands as our fifth-highest yearly total ever. The other four have all come in the last four years. So, we have really upped our expectations and the results!
Over the past five years, our alumni and friends have made an amazing $340 million in gifts and commitments to this beloved university.
Support from all 50 states
For Fiscal Year 2023, here is the breakdown on where our donors directed their gifts:
$18.5 million for students.
Priority needs at $9.5 million.
Facilities at $9.2 million.
With faculty and programs receiving $18 million.
Again this year, we received gifts from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Some 8,160 donors made gifts during the past 12 months and just over 1,200 of those were first-time donors.
We also saw a nice uptick in what we call retained donors, which is a donor who gives multiple years in a row (total = 5,808).
I’ve spent the last year talking about how together, we make great things happen for UND. As these numbers tell us, the collective “we” is thousands strong.
And just yesterday, we celebrated what can be accomplished by the collective strength of our alumni and friends.
We held a groundbreaking for the addition to the Fritz Pollard, Jr. Athletic Center … where we celebrated the start of construction on the Nodak Insurance Co. Sports Performance Center.
NoDak Insurance Co. is one contributor for the project, but there are dozens more who have poured their hearts and resources into making that project a reality.
On-deck in the UND Athletics master plan is a state-of-the-art campus softball complex. I’m pleased to announce that — thanks to a lead gift from Dave and Alexa Albrecht —this project will be moving forward.
The field will be built on the parking lot north of the Pollard Jr. Athletic Center through a public/private partnership that includes our donors, the city of Grand Forks, UND, the Alumni Association & Foundation, and the developers of the Memorial Investments Village, LLC.
The goal is to have the field ready for play by fall 2024 with a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 3.
This project has come together quickly thanks to Dave and Alexa Albrecht. Dave is here with us today, and they deserve a huge round of applause! Dave, please stand to be recognized!
It is just the latest project in what is the largest new construction boom on campus since the post-World War II period.
Again, I ask what those who attended the cornerstone placement at Old Main 140 years ago would think of the current campus. That building, then the largest in Dakota Territory, would fit comfortably inside Nistler Hall today!
As these bricks were laid one by one to form the foundation of Old Main, they represent not just a physical building, but the birth of an enduring educational legacy – a legacy that has not only stood the test of time, but weathered Mother Nature’s wrath, budget emergencies, pandemics and more.
There, at every challenging moment, has stood our alumni family … providing the support needed to take UND through each crisis and into the future.
The future’s bright promise
Thankfully, we have weathered many storms to reach a moment of growth and prosperity at UND. Just as the brick-makers’ fingerprints can be found on the bricks that formed Old Main, our alumni and donors’ fingerprints are all over this great University.
From scholarships that open doors to buildings that facilitate growth, from faculty empowerment to the nurturing of programs, our dedicated donors are the driving force behind the University of North Dakota’s past achievements, present successes, and the bright promise of the future.
We are proud to be a part of the “forever” that is the University of North Dakota.
But today is not the end of the conversation, it is just the beginning of the conversation.
You are invited to attend a special event during Homecoming 2023. On Friday, Oct. 6, the “Forever Starts Here: A Celebration for the Future” will be held in the Memorial Union at 1:30 in the afternoon. We’ll be sharing a special announcement that we believe will change the trajectory of UND.
So, mark your calendars now.