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Despite challenges of the economy and the limited ability of individual and institutional investors to contribute to Santa Clara, the University was able to successfully negotiate the turbulent waters of the financial crisis.
“One year ago, Stanford was laying off faculty and staff; San Jose State soon cut admissions by 3,000 students; and the University of California system cut faculty salaries,” says President Michael Engh, S.J. “As a newcomer to office, it was my awkward duty to announce fiscal economies needed to safeguard our own budgetary challenges. Though these were difficult decisions, this allowed us to avoid the kinds of fallout experienced at those other institutions.”
Last year, alumni and friends of the University contributed a supplemental $1.9 million to help keep 190 students enrolled who otherwise would have had to drop out of school.
“The energy level on campus has amped up,” says Engh. “The University is back on an upward trajectory.”
One of the most encouraging signs is a reversal in the downward trend for undergraduate alumni giving participation. The number of alumni who made a gift last year increased from 5,390 to 6,711, which resulted in an overall percentage of alumni making gifts to 18.6 percent—a three-point jump over the previous year.
Heidi LeBaron Leupp ’84, a member of the Board of Trustees who co-chaired the task force for alumni participation, says, “Every gift is critical. The many smaller gifts that SCU receives from alumni add up to create an enormous impact on overall giving. In addition, a larger percentage of alumni making gifts not only helps to address the needs for scholarships, academic programs, and other vital University initiatives, it also sends a strong message to foundations and corporations that might be considering a grant. It is also taken into account by publications such as U.S. News & World Report, who rank colleges annually, illustrating the allegiance that alumni feel toward Santa Clara—an important sign of a quality university.”
While contributions to the Santa Clara Fund serve current students, endowments support scholarships, chairs, and graduate fellowships in perpetuity, enabling the University to attract the brightest, most promising students and most qualified faculty.
At the end of fiscal 2007, the University’s endowment reached a high of $700 million and then retreated to $529 million by June 2009 due to the economic recession. By the end of fiscal 2010, endowment investments rebounded to approximately $603 million.
The endowment is invested in a diversified portfolio of assets designed to balance risk and return objectives as approved by the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees.
“Our investments are moving in the right direction,” says Bob Peters ’61, chair of the Board of Trustees Fundraising Committee. “The importance of endowments lies in their permanence. They are the gifts that keep on giving.”
Santa Clara University’s primary source of revenue is tuition and fees from current students. Gifts to the endowment or capital projects are not used for operations and not included in these charts.
Santa Clara University maintains a high level of fiscal responsibility and control that is overseen by the administration and managed by the University Finance Office, which is responsible for the accounting, budgeting, collection, and management of operational funds. The annual budget planning process is led by the University Budget Council with the support of the president and senior management. The budget planning process culminates in the development of a Five-Year Financial Operating Plan. The Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees has provided important advice as the University has navigated through the recent turbulent periods of economic uncertainty.