To endow a scholarship is to be an entrepreneur, taking a chance on the
human spirit, says Robert Daigle, chairman of the board of the
University of Maine Foundation. Facilitating that form of
entrepreneurship is a goal of the independent, nonprofit foundation,
which provides donors with a broad base of funding alternatives to
support teaching, research and scholarship programs at the University of
In recent years, the nation's economic downturn caused some of the
greatest stress on the foundation's investment portfolio, notes Daigle.
Fund balances declined — in some cases to double-digit levels — and new
donor activity slowed. However, the foundation's commitment to the
university remained steadfast, with only a single-digit drop in the
overall payout. This was, in part, made possible by the allocation of
unrestricted funds and the implementation of a very successful
Now, with the rebound of the market in recent months, investment
portfolio appreciation and improved donor confidence have returned,
manifested by an increase in the number and size of gifts.
Foundations like the University of Maine Foundation play an increasingly
important role today in supporting higher education by providing the
structure and efficiency needed for the partnership between public
universities and private constituencies to work. In addition, the
foundation can raise money for the University of Maine above what is
available through state funding and can be responsive in meeting
important university goals.
Looking ahead, the role of the foundation will likely increase as state
funding — currently one-third of the university's budget — continues to
shrink. The ability of Maine's land- and sea-grant college to maintain
its prominence will no doubt depend on the success of the University of
Maine Foundation in compelling those with affection for UMaine, or those
with a sense of obligation to help another generation, to include the
university in their philanthropy.
"The University of Maine Foundation, through its proven track record and
diversity of giving options, is uniquely positioned to facilitate this
ideal," says Daigle. "To that end, it is not unreasonable to believe
that in the year 2074, the foundation will be overseeing an $800 million
endowment, enough to fulfill the entire scholarship needs of the
University of Maine."
UMaine Today Magazine
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