Fiscal 2007 is rich year for U of M donations

  • Article by: JEFF SHELMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 12, 2007 - 8:38 PM

The school celebrated record giving this year, more than $251 million, up 39 percent.

More donations poured in to the University of Minnesota during fiscal 2007 than at any point in the school's history, the school said Friday.

U Foundation President Gerald Fisher reported to the Board of Regents that the university received more than $251 million in gifts and pledges. That topped the previous high of $234 million set in both 2000 and 2003 as part of the Campaign Minnesota project.

Gifts for fiscal 2007 were up 39 percent over a year ago, when $181 million was raised.

University officials were certainly pleased with the generosity of both individuals and corporations. At the same time, donations are only about 4 percent of the university's annual revenue.

"I believe the increase in philanthropy is an example of people's confidence and high expectations for the University of Minnesota and very specifically the strategic initiatives," Board of Regents chair Dr. Patricia Simmons said.

"Our other funding is important as well, including our state support," Simmons said.

In a survey of last year's giving by the Council for Aid to Education, Minnesota was one of several Big Ten schools among the top 20 in amounts raised. The other conference schools in that list include Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. The council's tally includes giving for research; the total Minnesota released Friday did not.

Nearly half of the University of Minnesota's revenue comes from state support (26 percent) and tuition and fees (19 percent). Those two areas account for about $1.2 billion of the $2.8 billion of revenue.

"Ninety-eight cents of every dollar are dedicated to a particular purpose, and many of these are deferred, long-term gifts," University President Robert Bruininks said. "It helps give you the margin of excellence, but it doesn't cover your core costs."

Cargill estate gift included

Part of the reason the university set a record was because a huge gift from the estate of James Cargill landed just before the end of the fiscal year.

Cargill's estate donated Dinnaken Housing LLC, a business that owns four student housing properties near the campus along with an office building. Those properties, all built within the past 20 years, are worth more than $27 million.

"This is a very important part of providing student housing close to the campus for upper-division students," Bruininks said. "We think this is a great addition to the University of Minnesota Foundation."

Bruininks said the properties will be operated by the U of M Foundation rather than by the university's division that runs the on-campus dormitories.

Several other large gifts supporting capital projects, including the TCF Bank Stadium ($19.6 million), an addition to the Weisman Art Museum ($3.4 million) and the Carlson School's Hanson Hall and undergraduate expansion ($7.5 million) contributed to the increased giving, the university said.

There were 46 gifts totaling $1 million or more during fiscal 2007. The $251 million includes cash gifts and pledges, bequests and trusts.

Staff researcher Roberta Hovde contributed to this report.

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