Tag Archives: endowments

The HBCU Endowment Feature – Savannah State University

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School Name: Savannah State University

Median Cost of Attendance: $19 703

Undergraduate Population: 4 386

Endowment Needed: $1 728 347 200

Analysis: Savannah State University needs an approximate $1.7 billion endowment for all of its undergraduates to attend debt free. Located in Savannah, Georgia, one of the South’s most historic cities with an estimated population of 142 000. The city’s population demographics are almost 60 percent African American giving it dominant social and political numbers. However, as in most cases the economics do not favor African Americans and null much of the social and political leverage. The most recent endowment numbers for Savannah State University show it to have a current endowment to needed endowment percentage of only 0.15 percent. Like almost all HBCUs the school needs enrollment growth, but for a peer-to-peer comparison it has a sizable population so the endowment size it somewhat a mystery. The halo effect that Atlanta should have on African American college graduates in Georgia should suggest a better fairing for their endowment. This suggest that there is possibly a disconnect between alumni and development. Savannah State University is in one of the premier locations in Georgia and the South. If location matters, then they need to make it a key point in their development strategy. It is one of those few schools that has the potential to skyrocket into the endowment conversation among HBCUs if it can find the right spigot to turn.

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The HBCU Endowment Feature – Mississippi Valley State University

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School Name: Mississippi Valley State University

Median Cost of Attendance: $12 872

Undergraduate Population: 2 090

Endowment Needed: $538 049 600

Analysis: Mississippi Valley State University needs an endowment of approximately $540 million for all of its undergraduates to attend debt free. The university is located in Itta Bena, Mississippi which is part of the Greenwood Micropolitan area and has a population of almost 50 000 with over 60 percent of the population being African American. Like all public HBCUs located in Mississippi its income demographics push against the school building a stout endowment. African Mississipians have one of the lowest median incomes in the nation. It has the lowest endowment need of all of the public HBCUs in Mississippi, but it also has the reported lowest current endowment. Despite having access to Jerry Rice’s millions the school has seemingly been unable to garner a large donation commitment from the former alum. The school boast one of the most affordable options in the state and begs the question why its undergraduate population is not more in line with the other two public HBCUs. Population growth is badly needed to deal with the low percentage of alumni giving that all HBCUs face. The university has gotten rid of out of state tuition, which should make it a more favorable destination for surrounding state prospects if it can leverage it. There is much work done to create a healthy endowment for Mississippi Valley State University and while it seems to have the tools at its disposal, it remains to be seen if there will be a strategy implemented to take advantage of them.

As always it should be noted that endowments provide a myriad of subsidies to the university for everything from scholarship, faculty & administration salaries, research, and much more.

The HBCU Endowment Feature – Albany State University

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School Name: Albany State University

Median Cost of Attendance: $17 982

Undergraduate Population: 4 187

Endowment Needed: $1 505 812 640

Analysis: Albany State University needs approximately an endowment of $1.5 billion for all of its undergraduates to attend debt free. It is located in Georgia’s eighth largest city which boast a population of almost 80 000 according to the last census. Albany is also a city where the African American population comprises over 70 percent of the population. The school’s current endowment is only 1 percent of the needed endowment. This is a note of concern given Albany State University has the second highest reported student loan debt per graduates in the SIAC and 90 percent of their graduates have some sort of student loan debt. The 90 percent is actually in line with the HBCU average, but still 35 percent above the national average. Being located in the southwestern part of Georgia gives the school geographic advantage to the panhandle of Florida for recruitment opportunities. Opportunities abound for Albany State University, but key to them will be finding a way to get alumni connected in such a way that their endowment is doubling every year for the next ten years. Otherwise, they will continue to be on the list of schools to watch and we have already seen in Georgia that merger talk is never far away.

As always it should be noted that endowments provide a myriad of subsidies to the university for everything from scholarship, faculty & administration salaries, research, and much more.

The HBCU Endowment Feature – University of Arkansas at Pine-Bluff

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School Name: University of Arkansas at Pine-Bluff

Median Cost of Attendance: $16 554

Undergraduate Population: 3 283

Endowment Needed: $1 086 935 680

Analysis: The University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff needs approximately a $1.1 billion endowment for all of its undergraduates to attend debt free. Located in Pine-Bluff, Arkansas which has the ninth largest population in the state. The school is located in a predominantly African American city but the last census shows over a 10 percent decline in the population over the past decade. A disturbing trend given that college towns on the rise tend to see a boom in their population and property values. They are also located only 45 minutes from Little Rock (pop. 200 000) which has a more than 40 percent African American population and less than 3 hours to Texarkana (pop. 143 000) which has more than 40 percent African American population as well. This triangle formation gives the University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff a strong base from which to start its growth and hopefully dominate the recruitment in the area. The university needs to at least double in size if not triple which could be extremely difficult to do given the demographic hurdles it would be facing. None the less rapid growth is needed in order to start to increase its probability of producing high quality donors. Currently, the school is not even at 2/1000th of its current to needed endowment ratio. The current endowment is of grave concern. Its primary competition is the University of Arkansas which is over 6 times its size but has an endowment almost 500 times its size. This leaves UAPB vulnerable in any resource battles within the state and region. They have a lot of work to do to improve their current endowment situation and make it competitive. If they do not address the issue they could be endangering their long-term viability.

As always it should be noted that endowments provide a myriad of subsidies to the university for everything from scholarship, faculty & administration salaries, research, and much more.

The HBCU Endowment Feature – Johnson C. Smith University

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School Name: Johnson C. Smith University

Median Cost of Attendance: $25 862

Undergraduate Population: 1 543

Endowment Needed: $798 101 280

Analysis: Johnson C. Smith University needs approximately $800 million for all of its undergraduates to attend debt-free annually. The university is located in Charlotte, NC. North Carolina is a crowded region of colleges and universities and at times can be both a gift and curse. In such a crowded area it can be hard to stand out and recruit top tier academic talent but there is an appeal to high school students wanting to gravitate toward multi-college hubs. Johnson C. Smith has the current distinction of leading the CIAA with the highest student debt loads among graduates. A distinction that does not bode well for generating future alumni donations and should be an imperative for JCSU leadership to address. US News reports that Johnson C. Smith’s endowment is currently $50 million which makes it one-sixteenth of the needed endowment. One of the highest current to needed endowment ratios of all HBCUs which shows of development strength. The university is well on its way into the $100 million club at its current clip. Given its large initiative in the STEM field mixed with its liberal arts atmosphere has the opportunity to produce an unique graduate that will be in high demand among graduate schools and employers. This could be quite beneficial with North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park right up the road and could pay huge dividends in producing high quality donors in the coming generation. The connection to the Duke Endowment is certainly a strong assistance for its growth. Ultimately, this is one of the few HBCUs whose endowment outlook appears quite stable. The question is whether it can move into a next gear and grow and expand its clout in one of the most important economic centers in the south for African America is yet to be seen. If it addresses the student loan debt concerns and push its population towards 4 000 students it has a real chance to break into the upper echelons of HBCU endowments. Regardless, Johnson C. Smith University is an HBCU with an endowment that should allow for the institution to see success for generations to come.

As always it should be noted that endowments provide a myriad of subsidies to the university for everything from scholarship, faculty & administration salaries, research, and much more.

What If Warren Buffett Or Bill Gates Gave $2 Billion To HBCUs?

By William A. Foster, IV

Many people are liberal in principle but reluctant in practice. – John M. Burgess

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Warren Buffett just recently made a donation of $2 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A foundation it should be noted with a larger endowment than Bill Gates’ alma mater Harvard. This was after it was reported by Bloomberg that Buffett had earned $12.1 billion over the past twelve months. Now, to be clear I firmly believe that nobody should tell another man what they should or are obligated to do with their resources. However, I have real issues with European American liberals always having solutions to fix African American issues and yet interestingly enough none of those solutions ever involve them relinquishing resources to our control and allowing us to become institutionally equitable. Instead, their solutions are often presented more in a manner resembling the savior complex.

In 2006, Warren Buffett made a $31 billion pledge to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He stated that he was good at making money and that essentially the Gates Foundation would know how to best use it help the masses. That the Gates Foundation does major “philanthropy” in Africa which arguably given Europe and America’s medical history in Africa always raises red flags. There is also the sidebar of research being funded at the University of Pennsylvania on HBCUs and at Rice University on the history of African American towns. The two schools have a combined endowment value of $10.3 billion. An amount over five times the size of all 100 plus HBCUs combined. Have either suggested that the way to help the institutional issues of HBCUs or African America institutionally is to release some of the assets under their control? No, not once. Just 5 percent of that $10.3 billion endowment would allow a $5 million infusion to all 100 HBCUs.

The current net worth of Gates & Buffett is a combined $134 billion according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. Yes, you read that number correctly. They have pushed for the wealthy to sign the “Giving Pledge” where the wealthiest billionaires pledge to give over fifty percent of their wealth to charity. Ironically, in all of that warm and fuzziness not once does it say that any of the wealth will go into the hands of African American controlled charity or institutions. Again, a donation of $2 billion would be equivalent to 1.5 percent of their combined net worths and yet would double the size of HBCU endowments in a single sign of the pen and allow for all 100 plus HBCUs to receive an infusion of $20 million per school. Again, just 1.5 percent.

I want to make it clear that I do not believe these men should or have to give their money to HBCUs or any African American institution. However, I am simply tired of hearing how much equality is desired in this country when we all know equality is an equity of power and power is derived from institutional control of resources. It is also not to say that these men would not give substantially to HBCUs if they were asked which I have no way of knowing whether or not they have or have not been. However, if the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is so in touch with the problems going on in the world it bewilders for me to believe they are not aware of the systematic poverty that impairs African American institutions themselves and how empowering them with actual resources would allow them to greatly impact the social and economic fates of millions of African Americans that HBCUs and their communities serve directly or indirectly.

Instead, what has happened and what will continue to happen is HBCUs will get six-figure grants and such from institutions like the Gates’ Foundation or get a report promoting increasing “diversity” as a means of stopping the flow of African Americans from our institutions as the answer to fix revenue shortfalls. In reality, the reason which seems to be often ignored that so many African Americans started having to choose HWCUs was because they had to go where they were offered the most financial assistance which HBCUs were never in position to do given historical funding discrepancies from the public and private polices of European Americans. There is one segment of European American that would gladly just crush African American institutions into oblivion but at least they are honest about it. The other segment seems intent on ignoring the fact that our situation is what it is because of them but are more than willing to help so long as we acknowledge them for saving us. The Great White Hope who talks a good game but when it comes time to really put their money where their mouth is, I have found more noise in an abandoned cemetery at four in the morning in rural West Virginia.

Dr. Clarke once said that in the early 20th century African Americans were debating between their alliances to the Soviet Union or United States. In the end, they realized that the Soviet Union wanted them to be free no more than the United States but they wanted them under their domination. He went on to say that they realized they were not in a battle between an oppressor and liberator but two oppressors with different methods of oppression. I contend much of the same could be applied on a micro scale as it relates to the relationship African Americans have to European American conservatives and liberals. It often pops up when we use the term of choosing between the “lesser of two evils” when deciding whether to vote Democrat or Republican. Maybe, just maybe it is time stop trying to separate the lot and simply view the situation for what it is.

The HBCU Endowment Feature – Fisk University

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School Name: Fisk University

Median Cost of Attendance: $29 142

Student Population: 480

Endowment Needed: $279 763 200

Analysis: Fisk University needs an endowment of approximately $280 million for all of its undergraduates to attend debt free. Located in Nashville, Tennessee which has a population of approximately 610 000 residents. Almost one-third of those residents are of African descent. Its major competitor in the city is Vanderbilt University.  As of right now that competition is institutionally lopsided based on student population, resources, and degree offerings. Fisk it seems more than any other HBCU produces a special kind of legacy from its womb. The who is who of African America often can trace its six degrees of seperation to the hollowed grounds there. Unfortunately, Fisk is teetering on having just its history to lean on and not much more. The university needs to grow expeditiously. Ideally, the school by now should be in the 8 000 to 10 000 student range. Realistically, if it can reach 2 500 that would be a major victory. The pace at which it can get there will determine just how impactful such growth would be. However, the expedited growth must be managed properly. Fisk possesses a special culture that could easily be lost in the race for numbers. But there is a reason for the saying there is strength in numbers. Although a controversial suggestion, merging with Meharry Medical College would be ideal to initiate the growth. It would instantly get Fisk halfway to the 2 500 population. It would also give the university access to one of the best run HBCU endowment teams and a deep bench of high quality donors. Something they desperately need. However, this scenario is unlikely anytime soon if at all. As such Fisk will have to find growth elsewhere and find it quickly.  The school’s endowment should be in the upper echelon of HBCU endowments. Instead, it has been part of ongoing controversy as the school tried to sell part of its storied art collection to shore up the school’s finances. Despite the cash infusion from the 50 percent sale of the art collection, it is still clear that the financial footing at the university is fragile. If it will find that footing is yet to be determined as the school implements new leadership. Hopefully, a clear vision and strategy will motivate a stirring in the HBCU many consider the “soul” of HBCU nation.

As always it should be noted that endowments provide a myriad of subsidies to the university for everything from scholarship, faculty & administration salaries, research, and much more.