Brilliant Futures Campaign gains 17 new contributions

University President B. Joseph White speaks at the University of Illinois Foundation meeting which took place at the Krannert Center on Friday. White announced 17 new gifts totalling $33.5 million. Laura Prusik

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University President B. Joseph White speaks at the University of Illinois Foundation meeting which took place at the Krannert Center on Friday. White announced 17 new gifts totalling $33.5 million. Laura Prusik

By Matt Spartz

The Brilliant Futures Campaign received 17 gifts totaling $33.5 million toward its goal of raising $2.25 billion for the university system. The latest contributions were announced at Friday’s annual meeting of the University of Illinois Foundation.

The university is officially more than halfway to its goal with $1.165 billion, and $190.5 million raised in the past year, according to the treasurer’s report of the fiscal year 2007 at Friday’s meeting. Although $190.5 million was raised last year, $131.4 million is immediately available and the rest is in deferred gifts.

The Urbana campus is slated to receive $834 million as of Aug. 31.

“Students and faculty receive direct benefits from these donations,” said Sidney Micek, president of the foundation, during the meeting. These benefits are materialized in scholarships and endowed professor chairs.

The foundation is a private, nonprofit organization solely devoted to raising money for the university. No other peer institution has an organized group that monitors the distribution of donations to its university the way the foundation does, said Chairman of the Board Steven Miller.

University President B. Joseph White repeatedly expressed his gratitude to the University of Illinois Foundation members in attendance.

“I am absolutely fired up about the University of Illinois,” White said. The foundation has done a good job meeting the goals outlined in the campaign, but it needs to be more aggressive to exceed those goals in the future, he said.

“Wealth building is crucial for the University,” White said. He explained that growing the endowment is one of its top priorities.

The endowment earns interest in various ways, which is then dispersed to the three campuses for things such as student financial aid, which is up $1 million from last year. The more money the endowment has, the more interest it can earn, which results in greater funding for the university. The goal is to have the money assist the university meet its operating budget each year and to have the interest grow faster than the rate of inflation.

“Growing the endowment will be the key to our success in the campaign,” Micek said. “We’re doing excellent, but we have to keep moving.”

The endowment is almost two and a half times larger than it was 10 years ago, said Walter Knorr, university chief financial officer and treasurer of the foundation during the treasurer’s report. The $2.197 billion the university has in both active and deferred endowment is a 23 percent increase from last year.

The active endowment, or the money currently invested, is $1.515 billion.

From the $2.25 billion goal, $1.5 billion is set for the Urbana-Champaign campus. The campaign is the most ambitious ever taken on by the university, and one of the largest ever by a public institution.