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Virginia Tech marks record year in private giving

A bright spot on an otherwise gloomy economic horizon, private giving to Virginia Tech was higher last year than ever before.

by Kimberly Richards-Thomas '93, M.A. '01

In fiscal year 2001-02, individuals, corporations, and foundations gave $72.6 million to Virginia Tech, surpassing last year's total by $6.2 million. Even with a $12-million gift of intellectual property included in last year's figure, private giving increased 9.3 percent. By contrast, charitable giving to education across the United States fell last year by 2.3 percent.*

The endorsement of private support is always a credit to this institution. The fact that this tremendous level of support comes when it does makes it all the more impressive, says Elizabeth Flanagan, vice president for development and university relations. "This surge of support from the private sector comes at a critical time for Virginia Tech, particularly with the loss of $40 million in state funding," Flanagan emphasizes. "Despite drastic budget cuts, the university is striving to advance a bold research agenda. Meeting our strategic objectives will not be possible without private support. Our donors have shown truly exceptional generosity and commitment."

University priorities and academic programs garnered close to $59 million this year, including multimillion dollar gifts to several areas. The Heth family, represented by the late Henry Heth and his daughter, Anne Heth Connor, donated more than 300 acres of their family farm to Virginia Tech. The property is valued at $7.7 million. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded $2.5 million to support The Orchestra Forum, an initiative facilitated by the Institute for Cultural Policy and Practice in the College of Arts and Sciences. This award is the largest one-time cash gift the university has received from a foundation. In addition, the College of Natural Resources received an anonymous $2-million estate distribution, and the Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Educational Conference Center, which receives strong program and staff support from Virginia Cooperative Extension, received an anonymous challenge gift of $1.5 million. Once met, this unprecedented dollar-for-dollar challenge will provide $3 million to fund scholarships, building projects, and renovations. Intercollegiate athletics attracted $13.7 million in private-gift income, reflecting the ongoing impact of Tech's athletic programs. This amount is 32 percent higher than last year and marks the eighth consecutive increase for athletics.

Virginia Tech alumni gave a generous $29.1 million, or 40 percent of the fiscal year's total. Friends of the university gave the next highest sum, at $15.1 million, nearly 21 percent of the year's bottom line. Corporations provided $13.4 million, and foundation support increased from $7.4 to $9.9 million. The university's donor base has also grown by six percent between this year and last. As in the past, donors directed a majority of their support to current operations, although the amount increased significantly from $27.7 million last year to $47.4 million. Private contributions raised the university's endowment by $12.9 million, and donors gave $7.5 million and $4.7 million to capital facilities and sponsored programs, respectively.