A new year has begun but the same old financial troubles continue. The state of Texas has proposed a budget cut of about $27 billion that will have a significant impact on different public sectors including education, leaving The University of Texas-Pan American no choice but to scour for funds elsewhere.
The Office of Development along with the Office of the President and the vice president for university advancement have agreed on outlining fundraising needs, in order to have a more focused approach on how and who to talk to about money, said Lydia Aleman, associate VP for university advancement.
“Part of our effort is working with foundations and corporations,” Aleman explained. “We also work with the alumni and friends of the university to ensure that they are engaged with what’s going on. We have been making a stronger push for additional support to meet our program needs.”
Currently UTPA collaborates with Baylor College of Medicine on the Premedical Honors College (PHC) program; the partnership was established in 1994 and its focus is to locate funds in the form of scholarships for students who want to become physicians.
“We’ll probably see a decline in scholarship support to our students,” Aleman said. “So, we’re going to run ads to ensure that people know that the need is out there with the hope that we’ll receive additional support.”
One way the university supports scholarships is through endowments, a gift accepted on behalf of UTPA by The University of Texas Board of Regents and then deposited into an account in the Long Term Fund of The University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO). Gifts may also be made to the UTPA Foundation, which will invest the funds through designated financial institutions according to the guidelines adopted by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees
In 2009 the UTPA Foundation received more than $750,000 from the Louis C. Draper Family Trust to fund and endow scholarships and future needs of the university. And last year UTPA received a $1 million donation from Valley Alliance of Mentors for Opportunities and Scholarships (VAMOS).
“What’s ideal about endowment funds is that it creates a sustainable way to support a program because the endowment keeps on giving year after year,” Aleman said.
Aleman added that a 5 percent increase in giving to the university is expected this year due to the fact that there are more people out there making funding requests.
Through the Office of Development the university also has something called gift planning, which allows donors to choose from different gifting strategies such as charitable gift annuities, bequests, life insurance, gifts of stock, and real estate, to name a few.
“Much of my time is dedicated to developing meaningful relationships with donors who are interested in planning future gifts for UTPA,” said Cecilia Johnson, director of planned giving. “Before talking with any donor or prospective donor about ways to structure a gift, I must see things from the donor’s perspective. Then, together we can explore ways to help shape the future that he or she envisions for the university.
A study done by the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness (OIRE) early last year showed UTPA’s economic impact in FY2009-10 on the community at $492.8 million. This is a result of University-related spending on operations and new construction, as well as expenditures by students, faculty and staff. The study also found that UTPA is one of the top 10 employers in Hidalgo County, producing a total of 5,873 full-time jobs.
The study also concluded that UTPA’s 2010 fall enrollment was the highest in its 84-year history at 18,744, and that 93 percent of the students were from the Rio Grande Valley. For 2015 the goal is to reach an enrollment of 20,000 students, so as the number of students, faculty and staff grows, so does the economic impact on the region, noted UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen.