Endowed scholarship funds are an increasingly important part of Xavier’s whole financial picture. Endowed funds raise the amount of financial aid the University can offer students, and the need is becoming greater as class sizes at Xavier continue to grow.
Donations to the endowment have increased significantly in recent years, says Pete Owendoff, executive director for major gifts. But it has a long way to go to reach the level it should to give Xavier more financial flexibility.
An endowment should be two to three times the institution’s operating budget, which means Xavier, whose budget is about $200 million, should have an endowment of at least $650 million to $700 million or more. Using 4.5 percent of the principle, Xavier’s endowment contributes $5.4 million in financial aid each year. But Xavier gives out $48 million in aid, which means the balance must come from operating funds.
“If we had a more robust endowment, then we could reallocate funds for a multitude of initiatives like faculty needs and infrastructure,” says Owendoff. “That operating money could be repurposed into the University.”
Other institutions saw growth in their endowments in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a result of a focus on planned gifts spanning over multiple decades and stock market growth. For the past decade, the focus of the University has been on the physical aspects of the campus—building the Cintas Center, the Conaton Learning Commons, Smith Hall, Fenwick Place, renovating the West Row buildings—in order to accommodate the demand from students for a Xavier education. Now the focus is turning toward the endowment.
“We are looking for new donors to grow our endowment and current donors to add to their existing funds,” Owendoff says. “Xavier is so dependent on tuition that if we don’t make the class one year, it has huge ramifications across the board. We want to make sure we are delivering what the donors intended, and that students get the help they need.”