One non-profit organization on campus is dedicated to the academic and financial success of students. The MSU Foundation’s goal is to provide this support.
The foundation, although affiliated with Murray State, works independently of the University for the sole purpose of supporting the students who have the intent of graduating with a quality education. This may include raising money for new equipment in classrooms, a new classroom altogether or a new building on campus.
The foundation is a non-profit organization that has been responsible for the management of donations to the University since 1946. The foundation focuses on collecting donations from Murray State alumni and friends of the University. Since 1980, the assets of the foundation have increased from $2 million to more than $90 million.
Bob Jackson, president of the foundation, has been involved with Murray State for many years. He is transitioning from his previous role of chief development officer of the Office of Development.
Jackson’s background also includes experience in the Kentucky State Senate. Jackson was involved in the Hold Thy Banner High campaign, a promotion for the students of the University, which raised $71.73 million.
The original goal of the foundation was to raise $60 million and to have 50 percent of that money go toward scholarships for students. Jackson said the foundation benefits a large portion of students.
“When you raise private funds at any college or university, it is a true partnership from all entities involved,” Jackson said. “Most importantly, it is from the generosity from alumni and friends of Murray State, so you are constantly making the case to them of our needs and scholarship needs. This includes phone calls, events for alumni and bringing alumni and friends of MSU on campus.”
Of the 65,000 alumni, more than 23,000 donated to the University during the Hold Thy Banner High campaign.
“Homecoming is vitally important to our alumni,” Jackson said. “Thousands come back each year. The Office of Development is constantly meeting with alumni and friends of Murray State. We are constantly inviting alumni to campus. We have a Racer-thon calling program where we call alumni five nights a week during the semester. We are constantly calling hundreds of alumni every night. We are constantly touching base with our alumni and friends in many different ways.”
Jackson said the process of contacting alumni is vitally important and is becoming more important now because of the reduction in state funding to public universities. He said the foundation has a responsibility to ensure that this money is used in the possible way to benefit Murray State’s students.
“Sometimes we receive stock gifts and sometimes we receive real estate gifts,” Jackson said. “Sometimes alumni remember us in a will. We get checks in the mail. Once these funds are raised, they come to the foundation. The foundation’s responsibility is to hold, manage and invest these funds in a wise and prudent manner.”
This process also includes managing the scholarships and projects that have already been established at the University. In fiscal year 2013, because of the work of the foundation, Murray State was able to award $1.6 million in scholarships to students.
“The work of our Board of Regents, the president and the administration, with the help of alumni and friends of Murray State raised about $72 million to benefit students at the University,” Jackson said. “We just ended a very comprehensive campaign that raised a lot of money.”
Murray State offers many scholarships because of the money the foundation has raised.
Through the Stars program students can apply for scholarships that directly apply student’s individual qualities. The foundation was responsible for implementing the Stars program on campus.
The Stars program is software that was designed to help universities and its students simplify the process of accepting and managing scholarship applications.
Jackson said the Stars program has been used at other universities around the country and because of the benefits Stars could provide the students, the Foundation chose Stars.
“We helped pay for the Stars system and we help manage the Stars system through the scholarship office,” Jackson said. “We interviewed and talked with a number of scholarship software providers and we chose Stars. We vetted it very closely. We interviewed many suppliers and got references from other colleges which helped us to choose Stars.”
The Hold Thy Banner High campaign provided funds for new buildings such as the Jesse D. Jones clock tower. It provided funds for new scholarships such as the Shroat Stage Dedication and Scholarship, a scholarship for theatre majors comprised of funds donated by Jerry and Betsy Reid Shroat.
Jackson said the foundation will continue to create opportunities like this for students.
“For this past year, we awarded $1.564 million in scholarships to our students,” Jackson said. “For the fiscal year 2014, approximately two million dollars in scholarship awards will be made.”
Story by Alex McLaughlin, Contributing writer