Endowment campaign seeks to elevate Augsburg

Ben Stark, Staff Writer

The Augsburg endowment fund and the Minnesota Vikings quarterback situation share a similar story. Vikings fans know over the last ten years there have been plenty of experiments at the quarterback position. Here at Augsburg, our endowment fund has stagnated while fundraising efforts went towards capital improvements. But in 2018, both teams have changed the script.

The Vikings signed Kurt Cousins, and Augsburg is beginning a five-year campaign to raise $150 million for the endowment fund. To give a little perspective, we raised $53 million to build the Hagfors Center.

An endowment is the sum of investments that colleges and universities receive from donors. As the investment grows, schools withdraw funds to pay for scholarships and some faculty salaries. Augsburg’s endowment policy uses 4.5% of the funds the yearly budget. Historically, the University has one of the lowest regional university endowment funds. In part, this is due to important capital improvement fundraising, but with the Hagfors Center completed, the Office of Institutional Advancement wants to change that statistic with their Great Returns campaign.

Endowment, to some people, is a prestige indicator; one may use the size of endowment to measure a university against its competitors. The logic is that universities with more resources can provide the student body with more opportunities. Because endowments subsidize student resources, the tuition students pay goes much further with a larger fund. Augsburg’s $150 million is tiny compared to the billions of dollars in Ivy League funds, but it adds real value to our students’ educations.

The best part about an endowment fundraising campaign is that the funds are immediately available for new faculty salaries and student financial aid. A few extra scholarships can help students get through tough financial circumstances.

In the last few years, the University of St. Thomas and Gustavus Adolphus College have received large individual contributions for their endowment funds. Heather Riddle, the Vice President of Institutional Advancement, is working hard to bring in similar contributions. She has already reported individual contributions as high as $5 million, but she says a big thanks goes to Paul S. Mueller (’84) and President Paul Pribbenow for organizing such a tight-knit community and for fostering the community of giving among alumni and friends of Augsburg.

The new U.S. Bank Stadium has changed the atmosphere in the Vikings organization just like the new Hagfors Center has updated Augsburg. Now both organizations are capitalizing on their investments by creating campaigns: one towards the Super Bowl and another towards a stronger community. The next three years look promising for the fundraising team at Augsburg and the Minnesota Vikings.

This article first appeared in the Friday, September 28 edition of The Echo.