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University of Missouri

Intro to Endowments

Understanding Mizzou’s endowment and why it matters.

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Gifts to MU fall into two broad categories. There are donations that can be spent at any time, such as gifts to the annual fund, and then there are endowed gifts. Endowed gifts can’t be spent all at once. Rather, the university saves and invests the money, spending only 4.5 percent of its value annually, which is more than replenished by long-term investment returns. This approach not only preserves the value of the original gifts but also allows them to grow. Mizzou has 3,624 individual endowment funds, which collectively form the university’s $847 million endowment. Of those endowed funds, 33 percent are dedicated to scholarships, 24 percent to salary and research funding for key faculty members, and 15 percent to programs.

Did You Know?

Academic endowments date to the Middle Ages in Europe. Wealthy patrons donated land to universities, which rented it out to earn income.

Leaving a Legacy

William Trogdon, BA ’61, MA ’62, PhD ’73, BJ ’78, took to words immediately. Author of the best-seller Blue Highways: A Journey Into America (now published by Back Bay Books, 1999) under the name William Least Heat-Moon, he credits the 1940s-era reading primer Mac and Muff with his love of language. To help preserve important ink-on-paper artifacts, he has pledged $3.5 million from his estate to an endowment fund that will support MU Libraries Special Collections and Rare Books. The fund is part of the 86 percent of MU’s endowment funds that are restricted in their use by the donor.

Did You Know?

Endowed professorships go back at least to 1502, when Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of England’s King Henry VII, endowed a divinity professorship at Cambridge University.

U.S. university
endowments control $400 billion in assets.

How does Mizzou Stack Up?

Mizzou’s endowment supports students and faculty in ways the university couldn’t otherwise. But compared to the biggest endowment in higher education or to neighboring schools that are fellow members of the Association of American Universities, Mizzou’s endowment is on the low end. Mizzou’s enrollment, on the other hand, is large, as is its students’ financial need, as measured  by the percentage receiving Pell Grants, the free federal aid for low-income undergraduates.

University Endowments in Fiscal Year 2014

Harvard University
Endowment: $36 billion
Enrollment: 21,000
Percentage of students receiving Pell Grants: 19

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Endowment: $2.3 billion
Enrollment: 43,600
Percentage of students receiving Pell Grants: 21

University of Iowa
Endowment: $1.3 billion
Enrollment: 31,000
Percentage of students receiving Pell Grants: 19

University of Kansas
Endowment: $1.5 billion
Enrollment: 28,000
Percentage of students receiving Pell Grants: 23

Iowa State University
Endowment: $777 million
Enrollment: 36,000
Percentage of students receiving Pell Grants: 23

University of Missouri
Endowment: $847 million (fiscal 2015)
Enrollment: 35,000
Percentage of students receiving Pell Grants: 22