New MSU record: $80 million in private gifts

Mississippi State is announcing a new milestone of $80.3 million in outright private gifts and pledges of future support during the just-ended fiscal year.

A 23 percent increase from FY 10, the record number represents the highest single-year giving total in the university's 133-year history.

"I never cease to be amazed by the generosity of our loyal alumni and friends. Their enthusiastic support is helping propel Mississippi State to even greater heights," said President Mark E. Keenum.

"Mississippi State's enrollment has surged to record numbers and these private gifts are a response to the university's vision of producing more college graduates to meet the increasing demands in our state," Keenum said. "We are proud to serve our state as its largest university by educating the leaders of tomorrow."

In recent years, private giving at the land-grant institution has defied national trends with its climb as alumni and friends continuously supported the institution.

John P. Rush, vice president for development and alumni, praised MSU alumni and friends of MSU for "expressing their unwavering commitment to education by providing financial support.

"Their loyal support gives MSU an edge beyond state appropriations," added Rush, who also serves as MSU Foundation CEO.

The MSU Foundation was chartered in 1962 to help the university attract private support.

Rush said the foundation, for the first time in school history, received gifts exceeding $60 million for the previous two consecutive years (FY 2009 and 2010), making this past year's level of support truly remarkable.

"Mississippi State achieved unprecedented success in FY 11 because our donors placed their confidence in us with annual gifts and through long-term investments by establishing endowments," Rush said.

For FY 11, the percentage of contributing alumni reached 18 percent, which ranks above several major peer institutions in the measure of support among former students.

Rush credited "StatePride," the current initiative for student scholarships and faculty support, as being "a catalyst for fundraising progress," also observing that growth in funds immediately available from "StatePride" and growth in the overall endowment were positive factors from FY 11.

The foundation also has been pleased with its recent investments, Rush said.

In a recent voluntary comparison of investment returns among Southeastern Conference institutions, MSU fared well.

"The MSU Foundation ranked second overall in a measure of one-, three- and five-year returns on investments," Rush said.

Along with advancements through scholarships and faculty support, private gifts to athletics also surged during FY 11.

Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said the "StatePride" collaboration between the foundation and Bulldog Club--the athletic fund-raising arm--is having a positive impact on the university as a whole.

"Many donors are excited about financially giving simultaneously to athletics and academics for the betterment of Mississippi State," Stricklin said. "The Bulldog faithful are among the most loyal alumni in the nation, and they maintain a steadfast maroon and white connection."

As "StatePride" continues, Rush said foundation officers "will remain heavily focused on attracting gifts for student scholarships and faculty development."

For more information about MSU fundraising efforts, contact Rush at 662-325-9306 or

Sammy McDavid | University Relations

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