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Frequently Asked Questions

What is endowment?

Augustana's endowment is a "trust fund" - a nest egg for the future. The fund has been built over the years through generous gifts of all sizes designated for a variety of purposes. Each endowment gift is invested to generate growth and income, and Augustana spends only a portion of the annual investment return in supporting the college's mission and operations. To guard against diminishing funds caused by inflation, the remaining investment return is added back to the fund. The goal is to ensure that the fund maintains its value over time, and the programs supported by the endowment receive the same - or even greater - funding in the future as they receive today.

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Why is endowment critical to the life of the college?

While Augustana relies on current sources of revenue to take care of immediate needs, the endowment is the foundation of the college's long-term stability and success. A stronger endowment will help take Augustana to new levels of excellence, achieving broad recognition as one of the nation's premier liberal arts colleges.

Students are the true beneficiaries of a strong and growing endowment, which:

  • Provides scholarships that ensure an Augustana education is available to all high-achieving students regardless of financial need
  • Helps stem dramatic rises in tuition by supporting college operations otherwise paid by tuition and fees
  • Presents a stable funding level for program and departments strength and continuity
  • Provides the flexibility and freedom to embark on new disciplines and to attract and retain outstanding faculty
  • Enables the college to improve facilities and enhance resources

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What is the right amount of endowment?

Through the generosity of alumni and other friends, coupled with prudent and successful investment management, Augustana's endowment has grown from $7.5 million in 1982 to $110 million in 2008. One common measure of endowment adequacy is the amount of endowment per student. The larger the endowment in relation to the number of students, the more resources an institution has to improve the student experience.

Augustana competes with other colleges and universities for both students and faculty. To compete effectively, Augustana must have the resources to continue to provide opportunities for innovative student learning and faculty involvement, and an enhanced campus infrastructure to support student needs.

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How is Augustana's endowment managed?

The Augustana College Board of Trustees oversees the management of the endowment fund. When making all investment decisions, the Investment Committee of the board balances the need for endowment earnings with a focus on long-term performance. Investments are diversified - including domestic and international equities, fixed-income investments and alternative investments - and are designed to accept a prudent amount of risk while maximizing total return.

Endowment assets are pooled, and each fund within the endowment participates in endowment earnings in accordance with its proportion to the overall fund. In this sense, the endowment resembles a mutual fund. The purpose of the endowment fund is to preserve real value (purchasing power) over the long term.

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What percentage of endowment earnings are spent?

Augustana's endowment spending policy is to distribute up to 5 percent of the average market value for the past 12 quarters, as decided by the Board of Trustees. The college uses a three-year average to moderate year-to-year market fluctuations.

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May a donor restrict his or her gift?

Augustana's endowment is divided into two parts: unrestricted (for general use) and restricted (for specified purposes). An endowment gift may be unrestricted or restricted, according to the wishes of the donor.

Unrestricted gifts are used for the highest priorities on campus and provide flexibility as needs change over time. Restricted endowment gifts combine the donor's interests with certain college objectives. Augustana works with each donor to ensure that he or she creates a distinctive endowment gift that reflects common goals.

Within the two parts of Augustana's endowment is a collection of individual endowed funds - many of them scholarships - either unrestricted or with varying degrees of restriction. Some donors direct their gifts to an existing fund within the endowment that matches their interests. Others choose to create a separate, named fund within Augustana's endowment.

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What is a separate, named endowed fund?

A separate, named endowed fund can bear the donor's name or the name of someone he or she chooses to honor. The fund can also be designated for a particular program, department or activity on campus. Because an endowment exists in perpetuity, a named endowed fund is an enduring legacy, forever linking the name of the donor to the achievements he or she has made possible.

To ensure that the earnings from an endowed fund are sufficient to achieve a donor's intent, both now and in the future, Augustana has established minimum support levels for various types of endowed funds. The minimum amount required to establish a separate named endowment may change from time to time to reflect the nation's changing economy. A separate endowment fund may be established with a lesser amount than the stated minimum with an understanding that the fund will grow to the minimum level within a reasonable period of time - usually five years.

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What are examples of separate endowments?

There are several areas in which separate, named endowed funds may be established:

Departmental and Program Support Fund-Unrestricted $10,000
Departmental and Program Support Fund-Restricted $20,000
Named Endowed Scholarship-Unrestricted $25,000
Named Endowed Scholarship-Restricted $50,000
Student Experience Fund $75,000
Academic Venture Fund $100,000
Presidential Initiatives Fund $500,000
Endowed Faculty Chair $1,000,000
Distinguished Faculty Chair $1,500,000


Departmental and Program Support Funds

These funds provide unrestricted or restricted support for a particular department or program. Administered by a department chair or program director, in consultation with the Academic Dean.

Endowed Scholarships

Scholarships allow Augustana to meet one of its highest priorities: to attract and welcome a body of high-achieving students who represent America's diversity and promise. For many of these students, scholarships make the difference in their decision to attend Augustana over another school.

A donor may establish a separate scholarship fund in his or her own name or in the name of someone he or she would like to honor or memorialize. A donor may also express a preference for a particular major or field of study, or recipients meeting certain criteria, such as students from a particular geographic area, should they choose to fund at the Named Endowed Fund-Restricted gift level.

Student Experience Fund

Endowed Student Experience Funds provide support for students to present research, travel to conferences, engage in an internship or other learning experience, obtain an international learning experience, and encourage professional development.

Endowed Academic Venture Funds

One of Augustana's core strengths is its faculty of creative, innovative and dedicated teachers and scholars. Faculty enable Augustana College to fulfill its mission with distinction, and support for faculty work is a key area of need.

Most of Augustana's current endowment is earmarked for student scholarships and day-to-day operations. As a result, we have limited financial resources to respond to new ideas from faculty for program development in core areas. An endowed academic venture fund encourages entrepreneurial thinking among faculty and allows the college the flexibility necessary to support the academic goals of the strategic plan.

Presidential Initiatives Fund

The Presidential Initiatives Fund advances strategic priorities and enhances student learning, under the direction of the College President.

List of Restricted Endowments at Augustana College

Endowed Faculty Chair and Distinguished Faculty Chair Fund

Donors who name endowed faculty positions are linked in perpetuity to the accomplishments of the succession of faculty members whose work their gifts support. Endowed faculty positions honor the achievement, expertise and seniority of the faculty member selected to hold each position. An endowed faculty chair is the highest reward for academic achievement, and often the key to attracting and retaining the finest senior faculty.

Earnings on endowed faculty positions support salaries and provide funding for appointees to develop new courses or conduct collaborative research with students, for example. Endowed faculty positions enable those faculty to help students follow through on innovative ideas for research, independent projects and presentations. Finally, endowed faculty positions encourage and support faculty in their own scholarly research or artistic work. Faculty who hold endowed chairs serve as models of the intellectual engagement and commitment we seek to promote in Augustana students. Donors who choose to fund at the Distinguished Faculty Chair level are able to indicate restrictions or preferences to a particular academic department.

List of Endowed Faculty Chairs at Augustana College

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How is an endowment gift made?

Planning an endowment gift is a personal process. Some make outright gifts of cash or appreciated securities toward the college's general endowment, in addition to their annual support through The Augustana Fund. Others may choose to create a separate, named endowed fund. These donors work with Augustana development staff to establish their endowment and craft written guidelines to govern its use in perpetuity.

Some donors decide to establish an endowment through their will or trust provisions, or through some other planned gift arrangement. Because these gifts will take effect some time in the future, Augustana encourages each donor to contact the Development Office for specific wording regarding future endowment funding.

Augustana is a careful steward of its resources and gifts. When a donor makes an endowment gift, that donor remains involved in the life of the college, and receives regular updates on the use, value and individual impact of his or her endowment gift.

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How can I learn more about Augustana endowments?

Personal assistance is available to those contemplating the benefits of endowment gifts. We also encourage professional advisers with interested clients to contact us for information and ideas. Augustana's professional development staff is available to explore the opportunities and rewards of making a personal investment in the endowment of Augustana College.

Please contact:

Nancy Johnson
Associate Vice President of Development 
Telephone: (309) 794-7475 or (800) 798-8100 x7475
Fax: (309) 794-7612
E-mail: nancyjohnson@augustana.edu

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