School Name: Livingstone College
Median Cost of Attendance: $22 050
Undergraduate Population: 1 140
Endowment Needed: $502 740 000
Analysis: Livingstone College needs approximately $500 million to allow all of its students to attend school debt free annually. For some perspective on this amount the largest donation ever given to an institution of higher education was by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife Betty, who donated $600 million to California Institute of Technology.
As with many small private HBCUs the school’s population is a problem for its endowment growth. A number of colleges and universities surveyed by U.S. News annually recently showed an annual alumni giving rate of 13.5 percent which means a small alumni base much of which has limited wealth is limited in its ability to contribute substantially. HBCUs in general usually having an alumni giving rate lower than the overall average. The mixture of limited wealth of African America and limited alumni population presents a challenge but also an opportunity.
Livingstone has the ability to have very intimate relationships with their alumni. Bringing all of the alumni into the gym for a speech during homecoming about giving and why it is important could go a long way for Livingstone. It is the only AME Zion four-year college which means its endowment should be growing at an exponentially faster rate than it has been given its monopoly on the 1.4 million members of the church. Unfortunately, the school is reported to only have a $1.5 million endowment or roughly 0.3 percent of the needed endowment. It would be interesting to know the percentage of AME Zion members who both attended the college and are sending their children to the college. Arguably, the population would be significantly larger if a deepening of the commitment by the church to the college were to take place on a number of strategic levels. Livingstone has some unique ingredients very few HBCUs have to grow its endowment and become a formidable liberal arts education institution but as oft is the case the question comes down to organizing a vision and leadership having the commitment to see it through.
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.