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Monday, Jul 28, 2014

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Foundation Board of Trustees approves measures to enhance Ohio University’s fundraising efforts


At its February meeting, the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees reviewed a new endowment naming policy, awarded grants and enacted a measure to fund its operations and The Promise Lives Campaign.

The naming policy, which will be finalized and effective July 1, 2012, increases the minimum required for a new endowment to $25,000 from $15,000. Donors can fund endowments through multi-year payment plans. Existing endowments will be grandfathered in at the $15,000 level. At the current 4 percent spending rate, a $15,000 endowment generates approximately $600 in spendable funds each year. A $25,000 endowment provides approximately $1,000 annually.

The policy establishes new minimums for naming endowed faculty positions such as chairs ($2 million) and professorships ($500,000) and for naming endowed scholarships such as general scholarships ($25,000).

The policy also defines the process for naming colleges, departments, schools, centers and institutes – as well as buildings or physical spaces, which will require 1/3 of the construction value to be contributed by the donor. Notice of potential naming gifts is to be communicated in writing and will require consultation with the president, provost and vice president for university advancement and president and CEO of the Ohio University Foundation. Such naming also requires approval of the Board of Trustees upon the recommendation of the president.

Endowment and naming minimums are currently under review for the regional campuses.

Vice President for University Advancement and President and CEO of The Ohio University Foundation Bryan Benchoff reported that the naming policy will enhance the foundation’s ability to support the University’s mission of teaching, research and service.

“These new endowment and naming minimums will increase the impact that individual endowments will have on scholarships, research and creative activity and programs each year,” he said. “Donors want to know that they’re making a real difference for our students and faculty, and the new policy will strengthen the endowment’s ability to influence lives for generations to come.”

The trustees also voted to award grants totaling nearly $60,000 from the Sugar Bush Foundation. Awards were made to a High Tunnel Project – unheated greenhouses that extend the growing season – that will be administered by the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology; and an Ohio Shale Gas Impact Assessment project – assessing the environmental impact of shale gas extraction – that will be administered by the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. (See related sidebar.)

Finally, the Trustees approved an additional 1 percent assessment on the market value of the endowment to fund foundation operations and The Promise Lives Campaign, making the total assessment 2 percent. The market value of the endowment as of Dec. 31, 2011, was $377.84 million. This additional assessment is in lieu of a gift share, or a gift tax model, which is common practice nationally for funding major campaigns, and it is the only fee assessed on gifts to the foundation or foundation assets. The new assessment will be effective July 1, 2012.

“University Advancement and the foundation are committed to raising $450 million, or more, through The Promise Lives Campaign. This assessment will sustain our capacity to raise these essential funds. It’s a common practice among university affiliated foundations to fund operations and is well within national benchmarks,” said Benchoff. “I’m pleased with the vision of our Trustees in approving this measure and ensuring our ability to raise funds not just for this campaign, but also for beyond 2015 and for the future of Ohio University.”

The Promise Lives Campaign – an effort to raise $450 million by June 30, 2015 – will celebrate its public launch in April and has raised $383.7 million in support of students, faculty, and programs.
The trustees will meet next in July in Charlotte, NC.

Grants and Funding Committee funds two environment-based projects

By Kelee Riesbeck

The Ohio University Foundation Board’s Grants and Funding Committee recently funded two projects through The Sugar Bush Foundation, a supporting organization for the foundation that works with the University and local communities to improve quality of life in the region.

The first grant will provide $49,460 over the next two years to erect two high tunnel greenhouses at the Ohio University West State Street Research Gardens in Athens. The tunnels will enhance the popular Sustainable Agriculture course in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology by providing indoor plant-growing space, which will be utilized when the University transitions to semesters in fall 2012. The project partners with the Athens-based non-profit Community Food Initiatives to provide high-tunnel construction as well as gardening and food preparation and preservation workshops for the community, food pantries and rural community centers.

The second grant provides funds to establish multimedia baseline environmental conditions in the region where shale gas exploration drilling is being proposed. The $10,000 project will allow researchers at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology to gather groundwater, surface water, air and traffic data at 30 sites owned by the University and private properties (with permission). The project also aims to collect mine drainage data at five sites. All data will become part of the public record, informing landowners, elected officials, regulators, and the oil and gas industry on changes, if any, to environmental conditions. This project is part of a broader effort that would continue to monitor multiple environmental media throughout the active stimulation and production phases of shale gas extraction.