Illinois State has achieved two milestones that secure its ongoing success. The University’s future funding, achieved through planned, deferred gift arrangements, now exceeds $100 million, while its endowment totals more than $207 million.

Future funding includes deferred gift commitments from 532 donors. The endowment, which is managed by the Illinois State University Foundation Board, provides income for scholarships, programs, faculty, and facilities.

“Deferred gift commitments are the seeds donors plant on campus with the understanding that their gifts will continue to advance the University well beyond their lifetime,” said Illinois State University President Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy. “The University’s endowment enables us to spend, invest, and save strategically. These funding sources further the University’s mission, vision, and values, and safeguard our future.”

A gift from a local alum pushed the University over the $100 million mark. From July 1, 2021 to February 15, 2022, alumni and friends committed an additional $3.3 million in deferred gifts. These range from beneficiary designations in retirement and other investment accounts to charitable bequests. Donors who give through these vehicles decide to do so for a variety of reasons and at different stages in their lives.  

The youngest donor to give through a deferred gift was 22 and the oldest 96 when establishing their gifts. All individuals with planned gifts are recognized and engaged through the University’s Heritage Society, which was created to honor donors’ investments and strengthen their connection to campus.

Why I gave

Donor Terrence Tapley Sr. began giving annually in honor of his late brother, Eric D. Tapley ’83, BSN ’96, a Mennonite College of Nursing graduate and former emergency room nurse. The care Terrence received from two Mennonite alums following two planned orthopedic surgeries inspired him to do more.

“I was so pleased with the after-surgery care they provided me, I decided that more nurses of this caliber are needed. I decided to commit a deferred gift to ensure that financial assistance can continue to be available to capable and deserving nursing students,” Tapley said.

Diane Dahlmann M.S. ’77 was inspired to pursue a graduate degree by her mentor, ISU faculty emeritus Dr. Sandra Little Groves. “I stepped onto a campus where faculty and staff cared deeply for and about students. The Redbird culture motivated me in the classroom and later on, as a student affairs administrator,” said Dahlmann. “Years later, when I reflected on what I call ‘my beautiful career,’ the common denominator was clear. I had Dr. Sandra Little Groves to thank.”

Dahlmann created a scholarship and committed an estate gift to honor Dr. Groves, who she said “made a difference in my life and in the lives of so many other ISU students.”

Dr. Robert Gray ’71 enjoyed a more than 25-year career with the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. With gratitude for his experiences as a biology student at Illinois State, Gray committed a $1 million estate gift to enhance the Dr. Robert H. Gray Biology/Ecology Scholarship for graduate students studying ecology, evolutionary biology, and/or other ecological sciences.

“If there are more students who can have the experience I did and be able to make a contribution to science and the world, that’s what it’s all about,” said Gray.

Fred Eisenhut ’96 named Illinois State as a beneficiary in his will to provide for students who, like him, are hearing impaired. Eisenhut’s estate gift will establish two scholarships—one for a College of Business student and the other for a Deaf student, Child of Deaf Adults (CODA), or a student majoring in special education: specialist in D/deaf education.

Eisenhut was part of Delta Sigma Pi, a business fraternity. He was also the president of Deaf Redbirds Club and felt at home at Hamilton Hall Dormitory. “ISU was a great experience which I will always cherish,” Eisenhut said.

“We’re grateful for the many donors whose generosity allows Illinois State to maintain its high standard for quality well beyond our lifetimes,” said Vice President for University Advancement Pat Vickerman. “These milestones are a testament to the trust alumni and friends place in the University. Thank you for inspiring a bright future at ISU.”

To learn more about naming Illinois State University as a beneficiary of your will, trust, or retirement accounts, or to discuss other deferred giving vehicles, visit or contact a development professional today.