Endowment 101

By definition, an endowment is when a donor makes a gift with the understanding that the college will never spend the original gift, just a portion of the investment earnings. The gift exists in perpetuity — that is, forever — and benefits all generations of SUNY Oswego students and the college’s programs.

Most often, we think of an endowment as the pot of money behind a scholarship. When a generous alumnus gives a $25,000 gift to Oswego (often with a multi-year pledge) with the intention to endow a scholarship, the funds are invested. Once they generate sufficient income (usually after a
year), a potential $1,000 scholarship can be awarded each year to a student meeting the donor’s criteria. The donor can designate whether the scholarship goes to a student with a certain
major, from a specific home­town or military background, or one who has overcome hardship or faces financial need.

An endowment could also create an excellence fund for an academic department, sports team or extracurricular program. The dean or director can use a portion of the accumulated earnings to bring speakers to campus, help students attend conferences and career-exploration field trips, or buy needed equipment.

One donor’s gift has allowed the establishment of a student-run Investment Club, which invests a portion of the endowed fund established by Gordon A. Lenz ’58 so students can learn about financial markets and gain real world investment management experience. The Public Justice Excellence Fund, established by David Cutler ’74, helps students attend an annual scholarly conference and travel to corrections facilities to explore career opportunities in the public justice field. An endowed chair, like the Marcia Belmar Willock ’50 Chair in Finance, provides funds to assist with paying the salary of a professor — usually a scholar of some renown — to teach in a particular area or department. These are but a few examples of the power of philanthropy.

The Oswego College Foundation has nearly 175 endowed funds providing more than $500,000 in scholarship and program support back to Oswego’s students. Annually, more than 200 students benefit from just the direct awards provided by donor-endowed scholarship funds. These are in addition to the scholarship benefits provided by the campus.

The Oswego College Foundation Board of Directors and its Investment Committee are charged with managing these endowment dollars to ensure that desired payouts are available each year and that they grow to match inflation.

Their diligent stewardship means the funds will always fulfill the donors’ wishes, benefiting generations of Oswego students and giving future donors the confidence to invest in Oswego’s mission.

—Michele Reed

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