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WSSU moves endowment to UNC Management

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By Todd Cohen 

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem State University has shifted the management of its $24.5 million endowments from Wachovia’s Evergreen Investments to UNC Management Co. in Chapel Hill, the company that manages the endowment of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The move, effective Oct. 1, includes the $17.2 million endowment for WSSU, the $4.4 endowment for its foundation and several restricted endowment funds.

Robert Botley, vice chancellor for finance and administration at WSSU, says the school’s board of trustees for endowment in recent years has been considering “possibly changing the manager of the endowment.”

For the three months ended March 31, he says, the return on WSSU’s endowment totaled 3.1 percent, compared to 5.3 percent in the same period for assets managed by UNC Management.

WSSU joins a growing number of smaller schools in the 17-campus UNC System that have moved their endowments to UNC Management in the past two to three years, says Laura Fox, associate vice president for advancement for the system.

The firm’s performance “has been spectacular,” she says.

One year ago, for example, UNC-Chapel Hill reported a net investment return of 19.2 percent, the third highest in 20 years, on its endowment, which grew to $1.48 billion in fiscal 2006.

As of June 30, 2006, endowments at the 16 campuses then in the UNC system totaled over $2.72 billion, Fox says.

That total did not include the endowment at the N.C. School of Science and Math in Durham, which since has became a campus of the UNC system.

Fox says the UNC system, working with consultant Community Counselling Service in New York City, is conducting an assessment of endowment fundraising and performance at the smaller UNC campuses, including WSSU.

Other campuses included in the study are Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, N.C. Central University in Durham, N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro, the N.C. School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, UNC-Asheville, UNC-Pembroke and Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

While the campus endowments are administered locally and overseen by the boards of trustees at each campus and by the boards of their foundations, Fox says, the general administration of the UNC System will be “aggressively challenging the campuses to set aggressive goals for themselves for fundraising, which would include growing their endowments.”

The study, for example, will show trends among donors, including trends for specific donor groups at each school and across the system.

“We will be using this data to do some aggressive projections on possibilities, and be able to use all that information to leverage resources to make yourself successful at whatever level you set for your institution,” she says.

“This will help chancellors key into performance metrics so that they can quantify the work of their particular operations,” she says. “This is not an arbitrary profession. It is about relationships, but the data help us direct us to which relationships support us in different ways.”

Fox says the UNC board of governors has made private fundraising one of seven indicators it will use to measure overall performance at each campus.

This fall, she says, the UNC general administration will select specific metrics for the board of governors to use in assessing private fundraising.

The UNC System joins a growing number of university systems throughout the U.S. that have begun measuring fundraising performance, Fox says.

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