The Board of Visitors Advancement Committee met Friday from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. to discuss philanthropic cash flow success and congratulate this year’s recipients of the Bicentennial Scholarship Program. The Advancement Committee oversees University development, alumni affairs and public communications, including capital campaigns and alumni promotion events.
Vice President of Advancement Mark Luellen said that philanthropic cash flow and the Honor the Future Campaign are ahead of schedule at this point in the fiscal year. The Honor the Future Campaign is a $5 billion dollar campaign launched in 2019 which supports the University’s goals in furthering three pillars of education, democracy and research. As of now 89 percent — $4.5 billion dollars — of the $5 billion dollar goal for the campaign has been achieved.
Luellen also said that there has been increased undergraduate alumni involvement in donations and philanthropy at the University. In the last fiscal year, there was 15 percent undergraduate alumni participation, which has already increased 18 percent this fiscal year. This figure includes about 2,800 alumni who donated for the first time this year.
In addition, Luellen said that the Committee is slightly ahead of their five-year average for philanthropic cash flow, which is $250 million dollars. Philanthropic cash flow is the cash receipts that the University receives, such as pledge payments and gifts. Luellen said that this lead on the five year average was due to a $50 million dollar gift to the performing arts center.
“If you back that [gift] out, we're actually tracking about 7 percent ahead of what our normal five year average run rate is on cash,” Luellen said.
Luellen thanked Cindy Fredrick, senior associate vice president for engagement, who has spearheaded efforts to form more creative outreach initiatives to keep alumni connected.
University President Jim Ryan then gave updates on the Bicentennial Scholarship Program, which works hand in hand with the Strategic Investment Fund. Both programs support initiatives in the University’s 2030 Plan — the roadmap for the University to become the best public university by 2030.
The scholarship program works on a matching basis, meaning that every donation made towards the program is matched by the University in funds towards faculty chairs. The faculty chair position — a faculty member who leads their department and may teach classes in any school — previously did not entail any additional funds for the professor. The program has currently raised enough funds to support 6 of these professorships.
President Ryan announced that the program is reaching $1.1 billion and to increase and sustain the growth that the program is seeing, an additional $65 million in matching funds is being allocated from the Strategic Investment Fund toward the Bicentennial Scholarship and Professorship Program.
“We have had the title of University Professor for quite some time but it is largely been honored that there are no funds attached to the chairs, which has made the initial aim of the chairs really difficult to achieve,” Ryan said. “So the idea behind the University Professorship was to have a truly outstanding faculty member who would be able to teach across the university.”
President Ryan then introduced two recipients of the Bicentennial Scholarship and Professorship Fund — fourth-year education student Quana Dennis and Mandy Rispoli, Education professor and Class of 2002 alumna.
Dennis, a transfer student to the University, was one of the first Piedmont Scholars from the Piedmont Virginia Community College. In his time at the University, Dennis has served on Student Council as the co-director for the Community Engagement Agency and worked as an Orientation Leader for incoming first-years.
"Even though the donor of my scholarship is anonymous through the Piedmont Scholars Program, I think about them and their generosity often,” Dennis said. “I know that none of this would have been possible without the generous gift. Philanthropy goes a long way, it impacts the lives of many as it has certainly impacted my own life.”
Dennis plans to get his Master’s of Education as a teaching fellow in the School of Education.
Rispoli specializes in autism research and works with schools to provide better and more equal education to students with autism. As a University alumna, Rispoli talked about a professor — Robert Emery — who inspired her career path. Rispoli said the scholarship allowed her to return to the University after graduating and continue her work and said she has a desire to touch her students’ lives the same way.
“I am so excited to be back to [help launch careers] for this generation of U.Va. students.” Rispoli said. “To help them become advocates and leaders and passionate about the work that they're doing.”
Rispoli credited her ability to connect with her students and her research to the professorship program.
The Advancement Committee will reconvene during the June meeting of the Board.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that there was 50 percent undergraduate alumni participation, the five-year average philanthropic cash flow is $240 million dollars and that $35 million dollars in matching funds is being allocated. The actual numbers are 15 percent undergraduate alumni participation, $250 million dollar five-year average in philanthropic cash flow and $65 million dollars in matching funds. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Mark Luellen thanked Julie Featherstone. Luellen actually thanked Cindy Fredrick. The article also mentioned the Bicentennial Scholarship Program and Fund. The program is actually called the Bicentennial Scholarship and Professorship Program. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.