The Partnering in the Journey fundraising campaign reached its goal of $50 million for the endowment fund thanks to an alumnus’ donation.
Lacy (’61) and Dorothy Harber of Denison committed $20 million to the endowment fund, making it the second-largest scholarship endowment gift in ACU history.
The Partnering in the Journey campaign kicked off with a $50 million goal in February 2012 at the President’s Circle Dinner, an annual event for university donors. During the last four years, the campaign raised about $30 million, and the Harbers $20 million gift made the difference to that goal. Jim Orr, vice president for advancement, said this is only the beginning for the advancement office.
“As educational costs continue to rise, we continue to need funds to help offset those costs,” Orr said. “By no means is that all the money we’re going to raise.”
Endowment funds are permanent university investments. Orr said the money remains in the fund and the return on investments becomes scholarships. Donors pledge gifts which can either go into effect later, like a will or trust, or they can make donations over time. The funds often bear the names of the donors or another individual. The Harber’s gift, called the Harber Bible Endowed Scholarship Fund, will help provide scholarships for students in the College of Biblical Studies.
“The beauty about that is that those monies are part of the permanent endowment, so those monies will always be there and always provide a return on which those scholarships can be awarded year after year,” Orr said. The university’s overall endowment was valued at $357.28 million at the end of last year.
The advancement office reaches out to possible donors while other donors come to the office with a desire to give. Orr said since the campaign began, donors created more than 100 new endowed funds. The Harbers were considering their gift for some time, but Orr said they were decisive about how they wanted to help the university.
Each department awards endowed scholarships differently. Dr. Chris Hutson, associate dean of the College of Biblical Studies, said usually a faculty committee awards those scholarships, but the college has not decided how to award the Harber endowed scholarship yet.
In the Department of Teacher Education, juniors and seniors apply for endowed scholarships, then a faculty committee awards scholarships based on need or academics. Dr. Dana Pemberton, chair of the department, said it received one new endowment each year for the past six years and two new endowments in the last year.
“Every endowment has a story,” Pemberton said.
One endowed scholarship was made to honor a donor’s family member who wanted to be a teacher but died in high school. Pemberton said not all of the donors to the department are wealthy. Some are alumni who partner to make an endowment. Some give large gifts every month for years.
Pemberton said those scholarships are awarded each year after spring break, but some money returns to the department if any of those students leave the department. The department then is able to help other students who have had financial crises.
“It’s an incredibly emotional thing to look at a student and be able to say we can help, ” Pemberton said. “If I could look at all those donors face to face and tell them those stories, I would, because it’s an amazing gift.”