Private donors recognized at annual meeting

By Caroline Kim

The University of Illinois Foundation kicked off its 69th annual meeting Thursday to “celebrate the legacy of public higher education.” The event was the first in a series that will take place this weekend.

Jim Gobberdiel, director of marketing and communications, said the Foundation’s annual business meeting will be held this morning at 9 a.m. At that time, the annual financial report on private giving and special gift announcements will be made. Gobberdiel said more than 10 major contributions will also be announced.

Sidney Micek, president of the Foundation, said the events will recognize the significance of the University campuses and other public higher education institutions, as well as address “the impact they’ve made in educating people and producing research outcomes that enhance economic development and the quality of life.”

Micek said this is a major annual event for the University and the Foundation because it symbolizes the importance of private gifts.

“The Foundation is the official mechanism in raising funds for all three campuses of the University of Illinois,” Micek said.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

The University received its first official private cash gift of $100 in 1895. Last year, the total contribution was $168 million, according to the Foundation’s gift statistics.

The University is supported through various donations, including annual gifts and endowments. Gobberdiel said the most common gifts are cash gifts and sometimes securities such as stock.

“One of the big roles of annual giving is that, in general, it’s unrestricted to the various schools and colleges,” said Maggie Unsworth, director of annual giving for the Foundation. “It really helps in meeting unforeseen needs and in areas that there isn’t any state money to cover expenses for the schools.”

Gobberdiel said all donations have to go through the Foundation, but loans and grants are given directly to the University.

Corporate contributions made up 37 percent of the total gifts the University received last year, and alumni made 22 percent of the contributions. Other contributors included friends, foundations and associations.

“Normally, people select to support their college,” Gobberdiel said. “There’s a lot of people who may have graduated from here, but they give to another campus because they have something there that they want to respect and support.”

All donations are distributed as the donor specifies. If the donor has no special instructions, the gift is designated as an unrestricted gift and will be used as determined by the Foundation Board of Directors and University officials.

Micek said state support has declined over the years, which contributed to the recent rise in tuition and has caused the Foundation to seek more private gifts to make up for the loss.

According to the Foundation Web site, the University is state-assisted instead of a state-supported educational institution. About one-third of the University’s funding comes from the state.

The late Arnold Beckman, who was an alumnus, donated the largest amount the University has ever received – $40 million – for the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. The state also contributed $10 million to the Institute.

The Foundation has undertaken various projects and campaigns since its beginning in 1935. Gobberdiel said one of the earliest projects involved raising money ti furnish the Illini Union.

Gobberdiel said the first major campaign was for $100 million in the late 1970s.

The last campaign, “Campaign for Illinois,” raised $1.53 billion and ended in December of 2000.

He said the University Library campaign that was announced last fall set a goal of $30 million.

“We’ve been making headway, getting the word out with DVD and printed brochures,” Gobberdiel said.

The University Library campaign will be incorporated into the Foundation’s third University-wide campaign that will be formally announced in 2006.

“Money that’s invested in endowments to support scholarships, fellowships and faculty support is going to be one of the primary goals of the campaign,” Gobberdiel said.

He also said one of the key aspects of the upcoming seven-year campaign is to increase alumni support.

Micek said this year’s private gifts compare favorably to other years.

“This weekend is really a weekend to recognize and thank individuals who support the university and the campus,” he said.