An endowment is a permanent investment account built by the gifts of donors. Led by professional investment managers overseen by the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees, the University invests these resources with about 35 different active managers. Because the endowment gives the University financial strength and flexibility in perpetuity, it is the best guarantee of our ability to support students, faculty and staff across generations.
Almost anything the University does can be endowed — scholarships, professorships and chairs, directorships, coaching positions, academic programs, research programs, study abroad, facilities upkeep and more.
Endowed gifts made a long time ago still benefit current Bucknell students. These funds helped construct buildings that we still use and endowed chairs that continue to help us recruit great faculty. Likewise, endowed gifts made today guarantee the future excellence of Bucknell.
As of Dec. 31, 2015, Bucknell's endowment stood at approximately $720 million.
Bucknell's endowment contributes about $30 million to the University's annual budget, which in the current fiscal year totals $261 million. This $30 million goes to scholarships, the operational costs of our academic and athletics programs, endowed chairs and professorships and other critical budgetary needs.
As a general analogy, one can think of this $30 million as interest on our endowment investments. We spend the Bucknell endowment at a rate of about 4.5 percent per year, in accordance with relevant statutes for nonprofits. This rate of expenditure protects the endowment principal and preserves its spending power relative to inflation. The remaining 95.5 percent of the endowment is perpetually reinvested to ensure Bucknell's future strength and flexibility and to provide the annual endowment income for future institutional operations.
A $720 million endowment is a lot of money, and for many universities that would be plenty to succeed fully in their missions. But Bucknell competes with the finest undergraduate institutions in the country for students and faculty, and to create excellent programs that typify national leaders. Other income that the University receives, notably tuition and fees, is spent on annual operating costs (i.e., faculty and staff salaries, grounds and building upkeep, technology, utilities). Endowment income is often the margin of difference between providing the basics and reaching a higher standard. Many of Bucknell's peer and aspirant schools, meanwhile, have a considerably larger endowment per student and per professor than Bucknell does.
Obviously, Bucknell wants to remain a leader and to offer the best possible educational experience. Beyond that, though, we also are determined to contain comprehensive fee increases. If we keep those at or below inflation, as is our goal, the endowment becomes an increasingly important source of funding. This is why our half-a-billion-dollar campaign goal includes $275 million in endowed funds to permanently strengthen Bucknell — through endowed scholarships, faculty and staff positions, programs, facilities and more. When we consider what our students, faculty and staff have accomplished despite this relative competitive disadvantage, it is exciting to imagine what Bucknell could do if its resources matched its scale.
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