New vision

By Laura Moretz

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Winston-Salem State University Foundation is leading an aggressive capital campaign to support one of the fastest-growing universities in North Carolina.

Its goal of $35 million is double the current university and foundation endowments, which are merged for investment purposes and are currently worth $17 million.

When its public phase is launched this fall, the campaign should have pledges of $18 million, up from $12.4 million now, says Michelle Cook, the foundation’s executive director.

Since Harold Martin became chancellor in 2000, enrollment has increased 74 percent and the university has completed several building projects, including a computer-science center that opened in 2003.

The University of North Carolina system has targeted the school as one of seven in the system earmarked for fast growth.

WSSU has undertaken initiatives such as an accelerated 13-month program to accredit registered nurses.

The school’s nursing program is its largest, followed by business, mass communication and education.

WSSU also has renewed its effort to tell its story in Winston-Salem and throughout the state.

“We’re seeing needs evolve in the community that we can address,” Cook says.

Alumni are responding with increased support, she says.

In 2000, only 200 alumni were giving to the university, compared to 1,000 now, or 12 percent of alumni.

“If you look at alumni support at historically black colleges and universities, that’s not bad,” Cook says. “Our strategy is to reconnect with alumni. Harold is crisscrossing the state.”

The university is also targeting out-of-state alumni.

“We’re telling alumni that it was here for you,” Cook says. “Make sure it’s here for those coming after you.”

The capital campaign’s focus is to ensure the university’s future.

“We could spend $35 million now,” says Cook, who came to the foundation in 2003 to lead the capital campaign. “But 70 percent of the campaign will go to endowment for the long haul.”

Of the $35 million:

* $14 million will endow academic scholarships

* $10.5 million will endow professorships

* $7 million will pay for strategic initiatives

* $2.1 million will endow athletic scholarships and pay for athletic facilities

* $1.4 million will be unrestricted

Money raised for endowed professorships will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the UNC system’s Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund.

Ordinarily, the trust fund awards a two-to-one match for endowed professorships in the system, but the trust fund boosts its match for schools targeted for rapid growth.

The foundation launched a Heritage Society in 2002 for donors who pledge gifts of $10,000 or more.

Those gifts can include insurance policies, charitable remainder trusts, real estate or bequests.

The society has 28 members and inducted six more in May.

Alumni have pledged to raise $1.892 million, recognizing the university’s founding, 1892, while faculty and staff have pledged $500,000.

The foundation’s board has an entrepreneurial bent that has led to projects such as privatized housing for students.

In August 2002, Rams Commons opened with 448 beds for students, financed by $17.6 million in bonds.

The board refinanced those bonds and increased the amount to $36 million to build Gleason Hairston Terrace. The new student housing will open this fall with 400 beds.

“It’s a creative way for the school to get more housing,” says Cook. “It’s provided a great source of revenue for the university.” The revenue has increased the number of scholarships available and supported technology acquisitions, she says.

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