EMU giving sets new record for philanthropic support

Eastern Mennonite UniversityEastern Mennonite University set a new record for total philanthropic support during the 2017-18 fiscal year, receiving over $9.1 million in gifts from individuals and private foundations. This significantly tops the prior record year of 2002, when $7.7 million was raised.

“It is especially gratifying to know that more than 3,600 donors and alumni stand strong with EMU and the bold mission we serve,” said Kirk Shisler, vice president for advancement. The total number of donor  households increased by 8.8% this past year.

The total includes several large bequests, major capital gifts for Phase II of the Suter Science Center campaign, as well as a nearly $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to support a special five-year “Thriving in Ministry” program at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. This total does not include more than $2.2 million in federal grants received.

Additionally, EMU’s Endowment Fund has reached $31.7 million with the addition this year of more than $3 million, thanks to robust investment returns and significant new contributions.

Twelve new named endowed scholarship funds were established this past year along with a major infusion of endowed support for the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding from the estates of founding donors James and Marian Payne.

This year boasted a strong finish to the Suter Science Campaign, with more than $11.4 million raised. The finishing touches on renovated spaces, including new engineering labs, were made in time to host EMU’s newest class of first-year students – and the second class of engineering majors. Renovations on the upper level of Suter West will begin next year. This will include renovated classrooms and upgrading of the S-106 lecture hall, to be named in honor of President Emeritus Loren Swartzendruber and his wife, Pat.

During EMU’s Centennial, a special Bequest Campaign was successful in acquiring 100 new estate planned gift commitments from alumni and friends. More than 640 members of the Jubilee Friends Society have made deferred commitments to EMU, which will provide long term endowed scholarship support for EMU students in future years.

Another record was set during the second annual LovEMU Giving Day campaign, when some 500 households contributed $119,232 on April 10 to support the University Fund and other EMU programs.

EMU’s alumni giving rate also held steady during fiscal year 2018 and is nearly 20 percent for traditional undergraduate alumni, almost twice the national average. This compares favorably to EMU’s peer institutions in Virginia and in other states.

“Each and every alumnus who supports EMU, showing their appreciation and affinity, helps other students access a life-changing and transformative educational experience,” Shisler said. “That’s an important affirming message for everyone who has a stake in EMU’s mission now and long into the school’s second century.”

Shisler also noted the spirit of generosity among EMU’s board of trustees, faculty and staff, including retirees and “the tenacious, positive work of the Advancement team whose efforts contributed significantly to the positive outcomes.”

Story by Lauren Jefferson

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