DePauw's trustees announce record year for gift giving


After meeting all last week, the Board of Trustees announced that the University received a record $84 million in the last fiscal year at a press conference Friday afternoon.
Brad Kelsheimer, vice president for finance and administration, grinned when asked about the state of the University's finances. He proudly said after much build-up, "We're doing great."
His response elicited laughter from Larry Stimpert, vice president of academic affairs, Sarah Wallace, chair of the Board of Trustees, Ken Owen, executive director of media relations and a host of student media correspondents.
Not included in the $84 million gift figure was the $15 million contribution from Judson '74 and Joyce '75 Green that will go toward the School of Music's 21st Century Musician Initiative (21CM).
Most of the gifts comprising the $84 million went toward capital projects including construction on fields and the fitness center, scholarship funding and the University's endowment. While Kelsheimer said he was thrilled about the remarkable amount given in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012 and ending June 30, 2013, he said DePauw's endowment is not as hearty as that of many peer institutions.
"If you compare us to the Kenyon's, Oberlin's, Colorado College's, Wabash even, our endowment per student needs to grow," Kelsheimer said. "We could do it all with a lot less, but the people who would pay the price would be you all [students]."
Still in the silent phase of financing the capital campaign of President Brian Casey's 2020 plan, Wallace said the trustees were pleased with the office of advancement's progress. Casey said in an interview Monday afternoon that more gift announcements will continue to roll out into 2014, one of his priorities among these being the funding for a revamp of Roy O. West Library.
Stimpert guided the trustees through the library during their time on campus last week to give them a better sense of what students experience day in and day out.
"I think it really helped them to see that," Stimpert said. "Many stayed after our meeting to do an optional tour, too."
Casey said the library is an especially difficult "sell" for potential donors as it is already named and people wonder about the value of a library as technology continues to come to the orefront in education, often replacing books.
"Before, libraries were these places used to store a wealth of information on shelves, but today so much more of our studying and research is done online or in databases," Casey said. "It's hard to communicate this adaptation and how they can be a part of it."
Also in the face of overhaul are the honors and fellows programs.
Stimpert said the Board had a profound interest in improving the programs and making sure that their content remained relevant.
"I think it's always good to step back and say, 'Do we have the right curriculum for these programs?'" Stimpert said. "Just because we've had it in place for a long time doesn't mean it's right."
He mentioned that both the Prindle Institute for Ethics and the Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media will have open positions after this scholastic year as the directors of both centers, Bob Steele and Dave Bohmer, respectively, will be retiring. Stimpert said the search will begin soon for individuals to fill the positions, along with Bohmer's position as director of the Media Fellows program.
Stimpert also suggested that the honors and fellows programs adopt an executives in residence program per conversations with alumni on the Pulliam Center board who were also convened last week. This would provide the opportunity for visiting mentors to stay on campus more long-term.
"We have so much talent in our alumni and we're not sharing that with our students," Stimpert said. "And that needs to change."