Tag Archives: virginia state university

Virginia State’s President Abdullah Leading By Example: Establishes Banking Relationship at VSU Credit Union

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In a release on Twitter, Kevin Davenport, Virginia State University’s Chief Financial Officer, announced that President Makolah Abdullah would be establishing a personal banking relationship with Virginia State University Federal Credit Union, which is the  fourth largest HBCU-based credit union with $8.6 million assets.

It is a move that is prominent after the massive banking black movement began last year. Noted web traffic to HBCU Money would spike anytime there was a police shooting last year to our African American Bank and Credit Union directories. Many African American owned banks and credit unions reporting thousands of accounts being opened and millions of dollars being moved as African Americans looked to take more ownership of their economic power. The movement also coupled with years of financial abuse by banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and others towards the African American community.

The decision by President Abdullah is an important moment as college presidents tend to be more a more financially affluent group. Financially affluent African Americans have often been a group that has been missing among African American owned financial institutions as clients, leaving many institutions to try and survive by piecemealing less financially stable customers and contributing to decades of stagnant products and services offered. We hope this will spur many other HBCU presidents to move their banking relationships and continue to set the example for their students and our community that in order to build a stronger African American ecosystem our institutions, all of them, need our support, investment, and patronage.

Of course, the major missing piece is moving institutional accounts. HBCUs control billions in institutional money and could significantly enlarge the $10.4 billion that is now controlled by 339 African American owned banks and credit unions left. However, very few African American financial institutions are capable of handling institutional accounts. Currently, OneUnited Bank, the largest African American owned bank or credit union with $648 million in assets, has two HBCUs, Roxbury Community College and Florida Memorial as institutional clients. As the banks and credit unions become more stable with growing deposits from individuals, then they will be able to offer the more complex products that institutions and businesses need. So while President Abdullah maybe just one account, the halo effect could begin a second wave in the #BankBlack movement in 2017 and beyond.

 

The Endowment Edge: A Conversation With Virginia State University’s Mr. Kevin Davenport

HBCU Money’s editor-in-chief, William A. Foster, IV, sits down with the VP of Finance at Virginia State University located in Petersburg, Virginia. Some of the highlights were how HBCUs can close the wealth gap between HBCU and PWI/HWCU endowments, HBCU financial transparency, and more as Mr. Davenport helps lead VSU’s financial health into the second half of the decade with a continued eye on the generations ahead.

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Mr. Davenport, thank you for taking the time with us. Let us start with telling us a bit about yourself and how you came into your current position? I have worked in higher education finance for over 25 years. I’ve served in a leadership capacity at both public and private institutions and at institutions as large as 35,000 students and as small as 1,000 students. I have a broad finance background which includes hands-on experience with cash management, endowments, investments, budgets, financial statements, audits and financial analysis.

I have served both HBCUs and PWI/HWCUs. I have been Chief Fiscal Officer (CFO) at three HBCUs in Virginia—Virginia Union University, Virginia State University and Saint Paul’s College. I have also served as Treasurer at a PWI/HWCU in Virginia—Virginia Commonwealth University and several of its related foundations (VCU). At VCU, I managed a university working capital pool of about $350 million and oversaw the financing of over $600 million in capital projects. I also serve on the City of Richmond Retirement System Board and Advisory Committee, which oversees approximately $500 million in retirement funds.

I’m a graduate of an HBCU— Hampton University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. I am also a Certified Public Accountant and have earned an MBA from the College of William and Mary and an Ed.S from George Washington University.

Virginia State University and its foundation combined have one of the largest endowments among HBCUs. For those who are unclear about the dynamic of there being two separate endowments, can you give us a bit more detail of why they are separate? How does their separation impact each investment strategy? The university has a $46 million endowment. About $32 million (or about 70%) of the endowment is managed by the University and the remaining $14 million (or 30%) is managed by a related foundation. Like most public universities, VSU established a foundation to allow greater autonomy in managing assets like endowment funds. After the foundation was established, some donors wanted their contributions to continue to be deposited to the University. Since then, the University continues to give its donors and alumni the option of donating to the university or the foundation.

Each endowment is governed by its own investment policy, spending rate and asset allocation targets. The endowments are managed separately, but their investment philosophy and strategies are similar. Both endowments are well diversified portfolios and conservatively invested to protect against a downturn in the market.

There seems to be concern among HBCU alumni who do not think the endowments of HBCUs are transparent enough and therefore create hesitancy to give. What can be done by HBCUs to allow for their alumni base to feel like there is a clear understanding of how their donations are being invested, allocated, and reinvested? I think HBCUs must ensure the highest level of transparency and accountability to its alumni and donors who establish endowment funds. Alumni and donors should receive a report each year detailing the activity in their individual endowment funds. This report should include total dollars for contributions, earnings, distributions and fees made to and from the endowment.

Most universities charge an internal administrative fee to cover costs for administering the endowment. HBCUs need to ensure these administrative fees are fully disclosed to donors and alumni. Sufficient detail should be provided on how the fees are calculated, how the fees are collected, and what the fees are being used for. Governing bodies need to make sure they review and approve all fees periodically.

It is also a good best practice to have donors and alumni sign an endowment agreement at the time the endowment is established. This agreement should provide donors with a clear understanding of how donations are being invested, allocated and reinvested.

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The endowment gap between PWI/HWCUs and HBCUs has grown from 46:1 in 1993 to 106:1 today. What do you think are some ways that gap can start to be closed, especially with HBCUs facing mounting financial pressure? Is there anything Virginia State University is doing in particular? HBCUs can provide greater emphasis on endowment growth. This is a challenge, especially as many HBCUs face more immediate and pressing needs. But administrators have to fight to make it a priority. VSU is aggressive in reaching out to our alumni and donors about the benefits of endowment giving. Our fundraisers include it in their fundraising literature and make it a priority in soliciting funds from alumni and donors.

HBCUs can also work with their governing boards to establish prudent investment and spending policies. A solid investment strategy can help HBCUs earn more on their endowments, thus grow their endowments to help close the gap.

 Over the summer, a ground swell occurred that has spurred many African Americans to move their banking relationships to African American owned banks and credit unions. Very few HBCUs have banking relationships with African American owned banks, while we know you can not speak for other HBCUs, can you explain Virginia State University’s current relationship with any African American owned banks if any? And what does it say that there is not more husbandry between HBCUs and African American owned banks? VSU does not have any formal relationships with African American owned banks or credit unions. There is a nearby credit union that bears the name “Virginia State University Credit Union”, but the entity has no legal association with the University.

In terms of investment strategy, does Virginia State University primarily internally manage its endowments; use external managers, or a mixture of both? The University engages professional investment advisors and managers to help it oversee its endowment funds. The investment advisors and managers have discretion to invest the funds according to a board-approved investment policy. The investment policy allows the endowment funds to be invested in a diversified investment pool which includes domestic and international equities, fixed income, hedge funds, real estate, and private equity.

The current macro environment in the United States of the zero interest rate policy by the Federal Reserve for the past decade has changed the way many individual and institutional investors set strategy. How do you think it has impacted smaller endowments like HBCUs versus the Big 30 college endowments? Because of the current low interest environment, institutional investors have had to go elsewhere to make money. Institutional investors at the Big 30 college endowments have increased their allocations to non-traditional and riskier asset classes such as private equities, international equities, hedge funds and real estate. Smaller endowments, like at HBCUs, have a harder time accessing these non-traditional asset classes. Further, the Big 30 endowments have been able to hire high-paid Chief Investment Officers (CIO) and specialized investment professionals to help them earn greater returns. Smaller endowments are not able to pay CIOs and their staffs. As such, the smaller endowments continue to lag the investment performance of the Big 30 endowments thus continuing to increase the performance gap.

In following up on that last point, given that 30 colleges & universities control 52% of America’s $500 billion college endowments and 100 times all HBCU endowments combined, what are your thoughts on a policy that would redistribute some of PWI/HWCUs endowments to HBCU coffers or incentivize large donors to give to smaller endowments? I like the idea of incentivizing donors to give more to smaller endowments. Perhaps, donors can receive a greater tax break when donating to smaller endowments like the ones at HBCUs.

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Student loan debt seems to have direct correlations to college endowments, regardless of the school’s cost. We noted in our last report that despite being cheaper, HBCU graduates are finishing with an average of $30,344 in student loan debt versus the top 50 college endowments who finish with $22,020. Coupled with African America’s wealth being sixteen times less than their counterparts this makes student loan debt a compounding issue for wealth building. Is there a more active role HBCUs can take in helping close the wealth gap in the coming decades for African American families? I think the major driver for greater student debt at HBCUs stems from family wealth. According to a recent study done by the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, the average family income of a student at the public HBCUs in Virginia is about $30,000 per year as compared to an average of about $60,000 per year for the other public universities. In fact, the average family income for some of the largest Virginia universities was over $100,000 per year. Additionally, over 85% of VSU’s undergraduates receive need-based financial assistance which is much larger than PWI/HWCUs. HBCU students struggle to pay the costs so HBCUs must keep their cost of attendance low compared to other PWI/HWCUs. A larger endowment would certainly help HBCUs fill their student’s need and thus reduce their debt burden.

For those interested in one day becoming the head of a university endowment what advice would you give them? If you are interested in heading a university endowment, my advice is to understand that your responsibilities go much further than merely overseeing institutional investments. At a college or university, you would be required to regularly communicate to a broad range of constituents such as donors, alumni, students, faculty, governing boards and administrators.

Thank you for your time; in parting do you have anything you would like to add? No.

HBCU Money’s 2015 Top 10 HBCU Endowments

 

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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.

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*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.

Additional Notes:
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

2013’s Top 20 HBCU Rankings By Total R&D Expenditures

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HBCUs appear to have taken a step back in the research field according to the latest National Science Foundation data. In 2012, research expenditures for the top 20 HBCUs combined for $455.1 million, while 2013 combines for $450.7 million. This represents a one percent drop year over year. The top 20 HWCU research institutions saw an almost twenty three percent increase over the same period.

  • The top ranked HBCU is Florida A&M University at 197 and the twentieth ranked Virginia State University is listed at 327 in America’s college research landscape.
  • MEAC leads the way with six schools versus the SWAC with four.
  • Division II/III schools also comprise four schools on the list.
  • Overall, the 1890 HBCUs are fifty percent of the list highlighting agriculture’s importance role in HBCU research.
  1. Florida A&M University – $51,149,000
  2. Howard University – $42,789,000
  3. Morehouse School of Medicine – $36,638,000
  4. Jackson State University – $36,264,000
  5. North Carolina A&T State University – $33,994,000
  6. Alabama A&M University – $32,937,000
  7. Meharry Medical College – $22,532,000
  8. Tuskegee University – $21,150,000
  9. University of Virgin Islands – $20,041,000
  10. Charles Drew University – $18,547,000
  11. Delaware State University – $17,295,000
  12. Fisk University – $16,423,000
  13. Tennessee State University – $16,177,000
  14. Morgan State University – $15,475,000
  15. Prairie View A&M University – $13,198,000
  16. South Carolina State University – $13,159,000
  17. Hampton University – $12,461,000
  18. Alcorn State University – $11,315,000
  19. Morehouse College – $9,581,000
  20. Virginia State University – $9,535,000

TOP 20 COMBINED TOTAL: $450.7 million ($455.1 million)

Additional Notes

The HWCU-HBCU gap for research among top 20 research institutions is 50:1

Top 20 HWCUs Combined: $22.5 billion ($18.3 billion)

Top 20 Average HWCU – $1.1 billion ($910 million) vs. Top 20 Average HBCU – $22.5 million ($23 million)

Top 20 Median HWCUs – $969.8 million vs. Top 20 Median HBCU – $17.9 million

Source: National Science Foundation

HBCU Money’s 2014 Top 10 HBCU Endowments

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The keyword for  2014’s HBCU endowments – disappointing. In the past twelve months, HBCU’s top ten endowments added $200 million to its coffers. So why is this disappointing? The S&P 500 over the past year had returns of 13.4 percent. The benchmark by which we measure endowment return success. Given many of the tax and capital advantages that college and university endowments have it takes quite a bit of effort to underperform the market. This year only six out of ten HBCU endowments outperformed the market, while HWCU counterparts clocked in at nine out of ten. This has allowed the institutional wealth gap between top 10 HWCU/HBCU endowments to balloon from 103:1 to 106:1 the past twelve months. 

This year was fairly standard with no real changes except one among the top ten, but what a change it was. The University of the Virgin Islands unseats Winston-Salem State University in the ten spot from last year after an unprecedented change in market value of 48.5 percent. A performance that not only led all HBCUs, but was fifth among the 851 American and Canadian endowments reporting. However, there is still real concern about the lack of HBCUs with at least $100 million endowments. Notable absences are Morehouse and Tuskegee who do not report. Even including these two, it would mean only approximately 7 percent of HBCUs are above this mark. This is concerning because even schools with only a $100 million endowment that achieved a market return of 13 percent leaves the school roughly $6.5 million to potentially to work with. Showing that HBCUs are still highly dependent and vulnerable to tuition revenue. A matter we saw continuously pop up after the Parent Plus Loan debacle that sent many HBCUers home. HBCU endowments should have been there to lessen the blow, but again given 93 percent of HBCUs are at $50 million or less it shows the vulnerability most are facing. The MEAC continues its dominance of the top ten HBCU endowments with four institutions present.

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 – $586 104 (14.0%)

2. Spelman College – $367 037 (12.2%)

3. Hampton University – $288 370 (13.5%)

4. Meharry Medical College – $136 975 (9.6%)

5. Florida A&M University – $127 186 (10.3%)

6. Tennessee State University – $50 492 (17.5%)

7. Texas Southern University – $46 577 (10.4%)

8. Virginia State University – $45 145 (18.6%)

9. North Carolina A&T State University – $43 785 (17.3%)

10. University of the Virgin Islands – $38 184 (48.5%)

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.

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*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.

Additional Notes:
NACUBO Average Endowment – $616 188 (15.0%)
NACUBO Median Endowment – $112 967 (16.3%)
Top 10 HWCU Endowments combined – $180.3 billion
Top 10 HBCU Endowments combined – $1.7 billion
Source: National Association of College & University Business Officers