Donors gave the University of Wyoming $52.7 million in fiscal year 2017, following a record-setting fundraising year for the school as it struggles with budget reductions.
The recent windfalls raised UW’s five-year giving average to $53.7 million, up from $50.8 million, according to a university press release. In 2016, the UW Foundation raised $63.1 million, $15.5 million of which went to the nearly completed Mick and Susie McMurry High Altitude Performance Center.
The press release notes the foundation raised $52 million in 2017, despite the university not having a “major fundraising project,” like the altitude center, to act as a draw for donors.
The donations will support student scholarships, the university’s engineering initiative, growing the School of Energy Resources, athletics and the UW art museum.
“Private giving to UW grows in importance each and every year, more so as we see declining state revenues,” President Laurie Nichols said in a press release.
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The school has lost roughly $41 million in state funding over the past year and has implemented about $29 million in cuts, including layoffs and the elimination of more than 370 positions.
The Annual Fund — or unrestricted gifts that “provide discretionary funding opportunities ... across the UW campus” — grew to $6.7 million. By the end of March, the university’s endowment stood at $456.6 million, a growth of more than $60 million over the past five years and $30 million from weeks earlier, when 2016’s donation totals were announced.
“In my view, this past year was one of the UW’s strongest giving years,” UW Foundation President Ben Blalock said in the release. “The year reflects support for UW President Nichols and her strategic planning process.”
Blalock told the Star-Tribune in March that Wyoming’s recent economic troubles didn’t appear to have affected donors’ willingness to give. He noted that roughly 60 percent of donors live out of state.
He added that “momentum is important and being able to show that the campus is changing and improving the physical structure of the campus” is vital.