LEXINGTON – Kentucky State University President Mary Sias has pledged to contribute at least $37,500 of her own money to the school’s five-year, $12.5 million fundraising campaign.
“Not because I have it, but because this is important,” she told university regents gathered in Lexington for a yearly retreat.
University officials outlined the effort for regents and senior staffers Thursday, urging them to donate and make connections with others who might also give.
Sias says it’s the first time in recent memory – maybe the first ever – that KSU has organized a capital campaign. The university has raised $1.3 million since officials announced the drive in October 2010.
Of the $12.5 million goal – chosen to mark KSU’s 125th anniversary – $6 million will go toward athletic facilities, $4 million to the endowment fund and $2.5 million will pay for student scholarships.
Sias says improved athletic facilities are critical, even though the expense might be questioned during tough economic times. The goal isn’t to build “luxurious” sports facilities, she said, but to keep students safe.
The university hasn’t made additions or major renovations to stadiums and fields since the early 1970s, she said. Cracked concrete and old equipment are putting student athletes at risk of injury – and causing KSU’s insurance costs to increase, she said.
Improvements to the football stadium, baseball and softball fields and track could make KSU more competitive with other schools in its athletic conference, bring tournaments and other events to Frankfort, and boost recruitment of athletes, Sias said.
The $4 million in endowments could help recruit the “best and brightest” faculty, Sias said, especially in science, technology, math and engineering.
Universities use the money in endowment funds to invest and build interest, leaving the principal intact.
Donors can contribute to the general endowment fund, or specify that their money go toward a specific purpose. KSU’s endowment currently sits at $10 million.
Sias says $2.5 million in scholarships will help low-income students struggling with cuts to federal aid and students who succeed in the classroom, but don’t perform well on tests used to determine merit-based scholarship recipients.
“These are students we need to be funding, and we need to have endowed scholarships to help them,” Sias said.
Bill Wilson, associate vice president for development at KSU, said students are getting involved too. They’ve launched a “Push for Pennies” campaign to collect $20,000 in coins and are offering T-shirts in exchange for $10 donations.
The university has also started a pre-alumni club that already has 96 members.
Wilson says he has plans to meet with Mayor Gippy Graham to take the fundraiser to the Frankfort community. He’s visited churches, organizations, and fraternities and sororities, with plans for countless additional meetings over the next four years.
The KSU Board of Regents will continue its annual retreat today in Lexington.