‘Savings account’ for University grows to $80m

California Lutheran University’s endowment account increases with generous offers and adjoining forces.

Cal Lutheran’s endowment account is now estimated at $80 million thanks to its generous philanthropic gifts.

“Think of the endowment as a long-term savings account for the university,” said Stephen Wheatly, vice president of University Advancement.

An endowment account is filled with dollars entrusted, or donated, by mostly alumni of Cal Lutheran, that is used for either specified reasons or unrestricted access.

“An endowment is a measure of wealth and capitalization in an institution,” said vice president of Enrollment Management and Marketing Matt Ward.

Donors are given the choice on whether they would prefer their money contribute to a specific department or section of the university, or to assign their donation as unrestricted, leaving Cal Lutheran the opportunity to invest their gift in the way it deems fit in hopes of turning a greater profit.

The institution has its own investment committee made up of members from the Board of Regents who oversees the university’s investment portfolio, guidelines, and policies.

The endowment account is not currency Cal Lutheran can spend at its leisure. There is a spin-off percentage distributed annually to the institution.

“We have an endowment spending policy here at the university which is five percent of the value of the endowment based upon the last 12-16 quarters,” Wheatly said.

Cal Lutheran uses its endowment dollars in a variety of strategic ways, including off-setting the tuition and fees by potentially providing more scholarships.

Cal Lutheran is described as a young and newer university, therefore, an increase in the endowment account is of great possibility. Ward said following the increase of the overall total of the endowment, more scholarships could be offered to the students, theoretically lowering tuition and fee costs.

Cal Lutheran recently joined and now shares endowments with Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, a seminary in Berkeley, California. This was a strategic merger of the two entities and PLTS has further added to the endowment over roughly $40 million.

The institution would not be able to finance its sports fields, dining commons, student union, etc. without the annual endowment spin-off percentage, which is now more prosperous due to the adjoining of accounts with PLTS.

During a phone interview, one of Cal Lutheran’s lead financial contributors, Corky Ullman said it is incredibly important that current students become educated on the fundraising for higher education purposes and to install the drive to give back once students graduate.

Ullman said that the students at Cal Lutheran are the future, and that investing in higher, Christian education is vital for the continuance of growth.

Jessy Corsello
Staff Writer

Published September 24, 2014