Mines is in a bit of an awkward transition phase. Faced with the reality of decreased state financial support, the school has been forced to pass some of these costs onto students while they search for alternative solutions. Finding these alternatives has become one of President Scoggins’ main priorities and the charge of the Colorado School of Mines Foundation.
Scoggins explains that the area in which “we have trouble competing with [private institutions] is our ability to discount tuition.” Thus his administration has focused on a few areas that promise to bring in added revenues and relieve tuition burdens from students. “One of the things we are focusing on in the [upcoming] capital campaign,” says Scoggins, “is building up our endowments to enable financial aid to [allow] us to discount tuition and be more competitive in the future.”
This is where the Colorado School of Mines Foundation comes in. The foundation was founded in 1928 and incorporated in 1951. According to Scoggins, “all of our gift money and endowments go to the foundation…[which] makes a distribution each year” to the financial aid department.” This is where the aid administered to students in the form of scholarships comes from. It is obvious then, that this organization is critically important to ensuring the future affordability of Mines.
Brian Winkelbauer, the executive vice president for University Advancement, agrees that Mines is “[looking] more and more like a private institution” and points out that “from a public institution standpoint, our endowment per student is very good.” In fact, Mines ranks 21st among public institutions for the size of its endowment per student. Additionally, the Mines Foundation seems to be on an upward trend for fundraising, which Winkelbauer backs up with the point that “five of the top seven gifts ever given to Mines have come in the last six or seven months.” In fact, last fiscal year was the school’s largest fundraising year in school history with a record $32.6 million raised.
The foundation’s recent success is seen in the lack of impact to student fees and tuition from new campus projects. The only increases have come about as a result of fees approved by USG. This is all because the foundation has brought in support from outside donors. While Tim Marquez’s large donation created the impetus to build the new petroleum engineering building, numerous smaller contributions from private individual and corporate donors helped ensure students would not see dramatic rises in construction fees or tuition.
The big buildings and facilities may attract the most attention to the foundation, but their role in the average student’s life extends far beyond this. In fact, Winkelbauer points out “72% of [the CSM] endowment provides scholarships, fellowships, and faculty support.” As state funds decrease, this role becomes even more important. Winkelbauer says “in order to continue to get the best and the brightest students, we need to continue to have substantive financial aid packages for them.” For this reason, he identifies scholarships and faculty endowments as the school’s largest needs.
Despite this belief, the foundation does not push donors toward any one option for giving. Instead they adopt what Winkelbauer calls a “donor-centric approach” in which the foundation tries to match the desires of donors with material benefits for the school, whether it is a building, an athletics facility or a scholarship. It has been a successful strategy, one which some of the school’s largest donors really appreciate.
Peter Konrad, the managing consultant for the Harvey Family Foundation, worked with the CSM Foundation to help create the Harvey Scholars Program. He speaks favorably of the CSM Foundation in comparison with other state schools he has worked with. Konrad claims that Mines “acts much more like a private university than a state school.”
When asked about how their role changes as Mines becomes less dependent on the state, Winkelbauer said that the foundation’s main goal right now is to “create a culture of giving, a culture of philanthropy.” “The goal” he says “is to keep [students] engaged, to [remind them] that Mines is doing a lot for [them] and it’s important to continue that legacy.”
The importance and challenge of this seems to be recognized across the Mines campus. Jill Robertson, the director of financial aid believes that the larger private schools “tend to have big endowments because their alum[ni]…are expected to give back.” This is not quite the case at Mines. Thus, the foundation is in a position where much of its work is centered on creating the basis for future gifts. According to Robertson, this “is going to be our answer to that whole [private-public] issue.”
Ideally, as the foundation continues to bring in more donations that support students, this culture will form from a sense of obligation to pass this gift onto future students. In fact, the school’s largest donors, Hugh and Michelle Harvey, are a perfect example of this. Hugh Harvey says that his desire to give “came out of [his] experience of when [he] came to Mines and was awarded the Newmont Mining Company Scholarship.” The Harvey Scholars Program’s emphasis on a personal relationship with the Harvey family was a direct result of Mr. Harvey’s realization upon graduation from Mines that he “had never heard from anyone at Newmont Mining Company.”
Furthermore, the Harveys themselves are hoping to aid in the creation of a “culture of giving” by making their scholarship a term scholarship that ends in 25 years. Mr. Harvey says “hopefully, that will…be an inspiration…[for current scholars] to scrape up more money and keep it going. “
One of the key components of the foundation’s plan, however, requires that they be able to interact with students and donors simultaneously. This requires them to have adequate resources, a problem that they are beginning to solve. Additionally, the foundation will soon move out of their current headquarters in the trailers next to the traditional dorms and into a new building that will give them the support to truly excel. The success of these ventures is what will determine the future of Mines and ultimately its affordability to students.