The campus community gathers at the start of each academic year for a State of the University address. This year’s event provided many reminders of why it is an exciting time to be a Redbird.
President Larry Dietz noted that Illinois State is ranked among the nation’s 100 best public universities and boasts a graduation rate among the top 10 percent of all universities in the country. The retention rate for freshmen is higher than the national average, as is the student loan repayment rate of graduates. The earning power of alumni places ISU as one of the best values in public higher education. The small-campus atmosphere is maintained along with academic standards that continue to make the University a first-choice institution.
While each ranking and external endorsement is cause for celebration, there is an additional statistic from this past year that especially stands as evidence that others recognize ISU’s excellence: The University set a record for private fundraising for the second consecutive year, nearly doubling the total from the previous high.
A total of $36.8 million in total productivity was recorded, with funds received as cash, pledges, estates and gifts-in-kind. The number of alumni supporting the University also increased, with 1,190 first-time donors. Private dollars primarily support student scholarships and academic programs. They also stand as a statement that Illinois State’s purpose and plan are appreciated.
“This year’s record gift total shows that a great many people believe deeply in the University’s mission and are willing to invest in its future,” Dietz said. The total resulted from a growing base of alumni supporters who gave at all levels, and a surge in large planned gifts during the fiscal year that ended June 30. A total of $25.5 million in planned gift commitments shattered the previous record of $19.5 million.
“That shows how people feel about their Illinois State experience. That elevates us to a family member status,” said University Advancement Vice President Pat Vickerman.
“There’s a real sense of pride and confidence in the direction we are headed,” he said, noting that such significant private support empowers the University to move forward despite uncertainty about future levels of state support.
“That’s what private gift support can do—create that stability and foundation for student and programmatic support,” Vickerman said. “It’s not meant to replace state support, but it can help us enhance the teaching and learning environment.”
President Dietz agreed.
“Financial support from alumni, corporate partners, and campus stakeholders is a key element of Illinois State’s ongoing success. Private gifts help enhance campus facilities, develop academic programs and provide student scholarships,” Dietz said. “Thanks to their generosity, Illinois State has a very bright future.”
There are myriad examples of just how Redbirds are empowered to pursue their passion because individuals invest in the University. Three stories shared here reinforce the fact that every donation—regardless of size—impacts a program or a person in ways unimagined.
- Everything counts: Scholarship honors math-lover’s legacy
- Sewing an educational seed: Black Colleagues support educator
- Bridging a healthcare gap: Donors fund MCN-SLP pilot project
Onward and upward
ISU’s mission to gladly learn and teach has not waivered. With the bolstering of donor dollars, the University’s pledge to preserve the personalized and comprehensive educational experience Illinois State provides is firmly in place.
The stories of Lee Ann, Daniel and Honors students collaborating across disciplines exemplify the personal impact of every donated dollar. Their academic opportunities stand as evidence that private support fuels faculty and students in their scholarly pursuits.
“Those who invest in Illinois State ensure we’re in the strongest possible position to provide an outstanding academic experience for our students,” said Ann Baughan, MBA ’83, chair of the ISU Foundation Board of Directors. The board is dedicated to securing and stewarding private gifts that benefit the University.
“Two straight years of record-breaking private support show that our alumni and friends believe in our University’s leadership team and the direction set forth in our strategic plan, Educating Illinois,” Baughan said.
Looking at the totality of investments made during the past fiscal year, an amazing story unfolds. Statistics emphasize the fact every gift matters. Each is certainly appreciated.
“We are so grateful for the generous support from ISU alumni and friends. All gifts matter. Many of our most generous donors started by making $5 or $10 gifts,” Vickerman said. “Each gift stems from an interest in making a difference in the lives of people here at Illinois State. Everyone has an opportunity to have an impact.”