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Magazine On-line [fall 2008]
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Annual Fund contributions take on new significance in time of financial turmoil

Contributions to the Transylvania Annual Fund are more critical than ever this year because of the decline in value of the University’s endowment that has resulted from the turbulence in the stock market.

Like many other colleges and universities, Transylvania’s investment portfolio has been hit by the recent disruption in financial markets. The endowment stood at $144.5 million in June 2007, and had declined to $121.5 million a year later. The international credit crisis that occurred this fall has added to the challenge of maintaining portfolio value.

“Transylvania donors have always provided the college with a robust annual fund that gives us the unrestricted dollars to draw from for scholarships, new technology, faculty salaries, curricular enhancements, and other needs of operating the University on a year-to-year basis,” said Richard Valentine, vice president for alumni and development. “The current year is a special case as we strive to preserve our endowment by using as little as possible for current needs.”

President Charles L. Shearer put the endowment in perspective when he noted, “Transylvania’s endowment is our institutional savings account, our nest egg, and preserving it and building it are key to the University’s future. Even though it is also a significant source of revenue for the operating budget, we need to carefully control how much of it we use for that purpose. Donor support of the annual fund this year will be a significant factor in protecting it from any further decline.”

Transylvania’s well managed endowment portfolio drew high praise from the National Association of College and University Business Officers in 2005 when it was cited for being in the nation’s top 10 among higher education endowments for 10-year returns for three years in a row.

“We are very optimistic about the long-range health of our endowment, and it’s important to note that the University has not invested in any speculative securities that have diminished dramatically,” said Shearer. “Our endowment tends to be invested predominantly in mainline stocks of traditional, sound companies."

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