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UND foundation continues trend of strong fundraising

Donors contributed $64.4 million to UND’s foundation in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, the foundation announced on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at its annual State of the UNDAAF Address.

DeAnna Carlson Zink viewpoint
DeAnna Carlson Zink, UND Alumni Association & Foundation CEO

While overall donations to the UND Alumni Association and Foundation declined from records set in the last two years, UND’s endowment is sitting at its highest level ever.

Donors contributed $64.4 million to UND’s foundation in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, the foundation announced on Tuesday, Aug. 24, at its annual State of the UNDAAF Address.

That number falls short of the $80.1 million given in fiscal year 2020, when benefactors, seeing the university grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, donated a record amount of money. This year’s total is the third-highest yearly total ever donated, and is on par with the $67.7 million given in fiscal year 2019, itself a record setting year.

“Do what you can with what you've got, where you are,” said foundation CEO DeAnna Carlson Zink, in a quote widely attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States. “Teddy (Roosevelt) has encouraged you to do good, and I'm very thankful that we have so many alumni and friends of this university, who take it to heart.”

It was a theme Carlson Zink continued in Tuesday's address.

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She presented UND President Andrew Armacost with a teddy bear, for making his first gift to the school. Armacost joined 708 other donors, who contributed to the foundation nearly 10,000 times over the fiscal year.

The $144.4 million raised by the foundation over the last two years has helped propel UND’s endowment to $366 million. More than $40 million has been paid out by the foundation over the last five years for campus projects.

“That's a record amount for this vital tool that establishes a legacy of giving far into the future,” said Carlson Zink.

Donations earmarked for scholarships last year reached $13.6 million, while nearly $23 million was raised for programs and facilities, a 250% increase over the previous year.

One particular donor gave nearly $70,000 to UND’s Angel Fund and Open Door Scholarship Program. Laura Gay, who attended UND in the 1940’s then later moved to California, made the donations in three separate gifts, after hearing about the impact of the pandemic on students. Gay died in May.

“Thank you Laura Gay, for doing good,” Carlson Zink said.

Gay and other alumni contributed more than $225,000 to the Angel Fund last year. About 330 students have benefitted from the fund, receiving $700 on average. That fund has now emptied Carlson Zink said, and 750 students have outstanding requests for assistance.

The Open Door Scholarship saw more than $425,000, portions of which has benefitted about 250 students from every college on the campus.

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UND graduate Hunter Pinke, who was severely injured in a 2019 ski accident, appeared at the address in a pre-recorded video, to read a letter offering his thanks to everyone from teachers and teammates, to janitorial and support staff, to alumni. It was their compassion, Pinke said, that assisted him in dealing with adversity.

“You've helped me improve, overcome and grow,” Pinke said. “I'm grateful for you.”

Due to robust fundraising, UND’s campus, Carlson Zink said, is going through a renaissance that began with the new School of Medicine and Health Sciences building, and continued with an addition to the School of Law. She noted the new Memorial Union is now open, and the Chester Fritz Library has undergone about $17 million in renovations in the last three years, made possible, in part, by the foundation.

The renaissance continued with the recent completion of the Gershman Graduate Center. A $3 million donation from Kathy and Hal Gershman helped unlock $1.5 million in state funding, to renovate the former home of UND presidents. Across the street, Carlson Zink heralded the building that will house the Nistler College of Business and Public Administration, set to open next fall. The building was made possible by an initial donation of $20 million from Werner and Colleen Nistler, and then bolstered this year by a $5 million gift from Tom and Connie Middelton, to create the Middleton School of Entrepreneurship and Management.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at akurtz@gfherald.com, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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