The keyword for 2015’s HBCU endowments – concerning. Two bellwether HBCU endowments, Spelman College and Hampton University, saw negative declines in their endowment’s market value. Outside of Howard University storming ahead at 11.7 percent, no other HBCU endowment saw double digit gains with North Carolina A&T State University missing the mark by 10 basis points. This is a far cry from 2014’s list when 9 out of 10 reported double digit gains. If there is any solace in the numbers and there is not much, it is that the top ten endowments of our HWCU counterparts had no endowments return double digit gains and also saw 2 out of their 10 with declines in market value.
Although there are some notable absences** from our top ten list, it certainly would not change the reality that still only three HBCUs have endowments above the $200 million mark and none have reached the $1 billion plateau, although Howard University, despite its noted financial issues seems to be headed there unabated and without much competition from Spelman College or Hampton University, the only real challengers. John Wilson, president at Morehouse College, in an interview with Harvard Magazine in 2013 noted, “is the need to build endowments; less than $200 million makes you, by definition, unhealthy.” This still remains the case and as a baseline means that 97 percent of all HBCUs are financially unhealthy. Even more concerning is that there seems to be no real plan in place to address this. A canary in the coal mine though is that donations of $1 million or more to HBCUs jumped from one in 2013 to nine in 2014, but donations of the eight and nine figure variety, also known as transformative donations, are still absent at HBCUs.
As always if you do not see your HBCU in the top 10 – DONATE!**
Endowment in millions $000 (Change in Market Value*)
1. Howard University – $659 639 (11.7%)
2. Spelman College – $362 986 (-1.1%)
3. Hampton University – $263 237 (-8.7%)
4. Meharry Medical College – $139 054 (1.5%)
5. Tennessee State University – $51 416 (1.8%)
6. Texas Southern University – $48 684 (4.5%)
7. Virginia State University – $47 432 (4.9%)
8. North Carolina A&T State University – $48 100 (9.9%)
9. Winston-Salem State University – $37 219 (8.5%)
10. University of the Virgin Islands – $34 274 (-9.0%)
Take a look at how an endowment works. Not only scholarships to reduce the student debt burden but research, recruiting talented faculty & students, faculty salaries, and a host of other things can be paid for through a strong endowment. It ultimately is the lifeblood of a college or university to ensure its success generation after generation.
*Note: The change in market value does NOT represent the rate of return for the institution’s investments. Rather, the change in the market value of an endowment from FY2013 to FY2014 reflects the net impact of: 1) withdrawals to fund institutional operations and capital expenses; 2) the payment of endowment management and investment fees; 3) additions from donor gifts and other contributions; and 4) investment gains or losses.
** Notable exclusions to the list that HBCU Money believes would otherwise make the top ten are Morehouse College, Tuskegee University, Dillard University, and Florida A&M University. Morehouse College, Tuskegee University, and Dillard University have never reported their endowment to NACUBO in the time HBCU Money has been recording its annual top ten endowments. Florida A&M University who was number five last year did not appear in this year’s list from NACUBO.
NACUBO Average Endowment – $648 074 (1.7%)
NACUBO Median Endowment – $115 828 (-0.9%)
Top 10 HWCU Endowments combined – $185.4 billion
Source: National Association of College & University Business Officers