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Support for UND Alumni Foundation stays strong

UND Alumni Foundation CEO DeAnna Carlson Zink gets a little help from her grandson, William Larter, in delivering her annual State of the Foundation message Tuesday at the Gorecki Alumni Center. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

With more cuts expected for higher education in the next biennium, finding a steady source of funding is no easy task.

The potential decline in state dollars could make outside fundraising sources, like the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, an even more attractive option, said DeAnna Carlson Zink, CEO of the foundation.

Carlson Zink gave her State of the Foundation address to donors and university officials Tuesday afternoon. The address is an annual event that gives the public an overview of the health of the foundation.

The UND endowment fund currently sits at about $278.6 million, which is an increase of about $10 million from last year's numbers.

More than $7 million in scholarships went directly to UND students in the 2018 fiscal year.

More than 9,200 donors from North Dakota and across the U.S. made commitments to the foundation in the fiscal year.

"Whether they give their time, their talent or their treasures, we have a very generous alumni base," she said. "They're a generous alumni base, they're a passionate alumni base. They care deeply about this university."

It's estimated that about 85 percent of today's children will work in jobs that have yet to be created, Carlson Zink said. She added that it is important for the foundation to continue to support those students, even though the foundation does not necessarily know what those students' reality will look like in 20 to 30 years.

"But we do know they're going to need scholarships, so scholarship support continues to be critical," she said. "Program support makes sure that we are educating students to tackle tomorrow's societal challenges and to be able to work and think in these new jobs that have yet to be created."

The foundation also wants to continue to support faculty. Currently, the foundation supports severals endowed faculty members, which means the foundation gives money to help support the faculty member's salary.

Carlson Zink said corporate partners also are important to the foundation.

Petroleum engineering chair Vamegh Rasouli is an endowed chair, a position made possible by a donation from Continental Resources and Harold Hamm, CEO of the oil company.

"(Rasouli) is a perfect example of how an outstanding, high caliber faculty member can continue to recruit students and can continue to bring in research dollars," she said, noting that Rasouli is one of the top researchers in energy production, which has helped raise UND's profile worldwide.

UND President Mark Kennedy said the university has a "great relationship" with the foundation, and he expects to work closely with them in the coming year on projects such as the High Performance Center II and the business school.

Kennedy said the university's grand challenges are, in many ways, "echoed" by the foundation, including the foundation's work with endowed faculty and staff. He added that most premiere faculty are more attracted to an endowed professorship.

"Having more endowed faculty helps us not just afford them, but attract the best and the brightest faculty," he said.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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