Every year, seniors at the College of William and Mary are inundated with invitations to events meant to encourage donations to the senior class gift. Through the senior class gift the College places a huge emphasis on developing the habit of giving back early. The College recently released information that its current endowment, which includes gifts from more than 30,000 donors, has increased significantly over the past year.
Over the course of the 2011 fiscal year, the endowment increased by 15.8 percent, which amounts to $18.5 million in growth. The worth of our investment trust is now $624.7 million — a significant increase since 2008. While private schools and some other state institutions — like a certain university in Charlottesville — have larger endowments, we must remember that any increase in our endowment or funding should be seen as good news. Although, with funding from the state predicted to drop 2 percent in the next year, the College is still exercising caution in celebrating the increase.
It is unfortunate that our endowment is smaller than those at other colleges in the state — especially since we’ve had more than 300 years to cultivate our endowment — but at least it’s growing. Anyone who walks past St. George Tucker Hall can see that even the class of 2011 gave an unprecedented amount, with 79 percent of seniors donating to the fund.
There are probably several reasons for this pronounced increase in giving. The growth of the endowment could be a sign that the economy is turning around slowly. As alumni find themselves in more economically stable positions, they are able to increase their donations to the College. Further, the College recently hasn’t witnessed much controversy that would have shaken donor trust. Apparently, students and alumni alike enjoy College President Taylor Reveley’s soothing and seemingly magical baritone and penchant for unusual yet hilarious jokes.
It is vital that these contributions continue, as the College suffers from budget cuts annually. Without funding from our investments or donors, programs at the College would not be as prestigious because we wouldn’t be able to afford the best faculty, staff and equipment. We also wouldn’t be able to bring the best students without adequate financial resources.
Seniors: Even if you find donating difficult, your contributions are necessary to improving the educational resources and the opportunities available to students at the College. And donors, you should see that the investment you make in the College is worth it. The College continues to grow and improve in many ways. By giving back to the College, you can ensure the school maintains its prestigious reputation, which in turn makes your degree more valuable.
In the current economic climate, we can’t run the risk of becoming too comfortable with where we are. We should continue trying to reach out to new donors and to create new opportunities to make the College better.