MU reviews amounts for donations

Monday, February 19, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 6:00 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 14, 2008

Those thinking of starting a scholarship at MU may want to act sooner rather than later.

When the For All We Call Mizzou campaign comes to a close on Dec. 31, 2008, campaign leaders will recommend raising the minimum donation for a named scholarship from $10,000 to $25,000.

The final decision lies in the hands of the Board of Curators, said Linda L’Hote, associate vice chancellor of development.

Raising the minimum, L’Hote said, would allow fundraisers to focus more on large gifts that could have a bigger impact and make the school more affordable. Scholarship recipients would receive $1,250 instead of $500.

When the minimum was set by the board in 1981, $500 could easily cover the $459 cost of one semester of tuition at MU.

“The price of a dollar has changed,” L’Hote wrote in an e-mail. “$500 generally might not even cover a person’s book charges.”

Within the Association of American Universities, a group of 62 top research schools considered peer institutions of MU, the $10,000 minimum ranks near the bottom of minimum endowments. The average minimum at those universities is a little less than $40,000.

L’Hote said a higher endowment level could help provide student assistants, research equipment and teaching tools or travel funds for seminars. At the same time, it would help the school’s experienced fundraisers focus their energy on the biggest and most lucrative donors.

“The issue is that you have only so many fundraisers and they have to use their time efficiently and effectively — thus we work with larger gift prospects,” she wrote.

Ashley Noblitt, a senior in agriculture education at MU, has received the Floyd A. Watkins scholarship each semester for the past two years. The scholarship was created in 1978 by the family of Watkins, a longtime agriculture teacher at Fair Play High School in Missouri.

This year, the scholarship covered her books and a few other educational fees, she said.

“Raising it would definitely be a help,” she said. “Each year, student fees and tuition are increasing, and this might help offset it.”

Not all schools think a high minimum endowment level is a good thing. In fact, Ron Burton, president of the University of Oklahoma Foundation, said having a minimum at all could send the wrong message and make it more difficult to raise funds.

Besides, he said, any money can be a big help for students.

“I’ll take their (MU’s) $5,000 and $10,000 and $24,999 gifts and give them to OU students to help out,” Burton said. “I thought that’s what we were here for. Maybe I missed out.”

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