The WVU Foundation maximizes private support to benefit WVU students, programs, facilities and more through sound investments. (WVU Photo/Garrett Cullen)
Nearly 10 years ago, West Virginia University alumnus Scott Wilkie approached his wife, Carol, with a bold idea: He wanted to create a family endowment to support marketing students at his alma mater.
Carol initially thought he was “crazy,” as their two children had not yet gone to college. But she eventually warmed to the idea, and the Wilkie Marketing Student Enrichment Fund was established in 2014. Since then, the Wilkies have enjoyed seeing the fund grow to help WVU students pursue a variety of educational experiences outside the classroom, such as internship activities, professional development, research projects, study abroad and more.
Through the 2021-’22 fiscal year, the Wilkies and others had contributed more than $62,000, but the fund’s value was nearly $88,000 – an increase of more than 41%. The endowment’s impressive growth reflects efforts by the WVU Foundation to maximize private support for the University through sound investments.
“It’s really fulfilling to see how our gift is building and how the investment performance over time is starting to add up,” Scott Wilkie said. “Knowing this is an evergreen endowment, that’s really exciting because we expect to see those numbers for the endowment continue to improve.”
As WVU works to ensure tuition affordability amid budget challenges and reduced state appropriations, private support is more critical than ever to help the University fulfill its land-grant mission. The WVU Foundation is the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University, and it employs an experienced team of investment professionals with a strong record of long-term success in growing those gifts.
As of Dec. 31, 2022, the Foundation’s investments team managed assets worth more than $2.67 billion. That figure includes 3,526 endowed funds, which reside in a long-term investment pool with a 9% annualized return over the past 10 years.
“We are committed to investing donor dollars wisely to maximize charitable support for WVU as it works to advance education, health care and prosperity in West Virginia and beyond,” WVU Foundation President and CEO Cindi Roth said. “Rick Kraich, our chief investment officer, has more than 30 years of investment management experience, and he’s been repeatedly recognized at the national level for his leadership. Our performance has consistently stood out among our peers, demonstrating that WVU is an excellent steward of gifts from its alumni and supporters.”
For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, the WVU Foundation’s return of 11.3% ranked in the top 5% of National Association of College and University Business Officers endowments and ranked in the top 10% of its peer group, which includes 33 institutions of higher learning.
For the one-year, three-year, five-year and 10-year periods ending June 30, 2022, the Foundation’s Long-Term Investment Pool was a top quartile performer across more than 675 NACUBO respondents.
The WVU Foundation creates and distributes regular fund reports to donors and their family members to provide updates on each fund’s growth as well as the use of those dollars by the University.
David Bartlett, of Winchester, Virginia, is the estate executor for his uncle, Dr. Nathan P. Baker, a WVU graduate and longtime dentist in Charleston, West Virginia. Upon his passing in 2006, Baker left much of his estate to WVU to establish a full-ride scholarship for African American students at the WVU School of Dentistry.
“I appreciate the reports that come in,” Bartlett said. “I glance at them, and I’m in awe of the amount of money that it generates. I’m appreciative of the fact that there have been many students who have benefited from the endowment. I receive thank-you notes, postcards and letters from these students saying that, without Dr. Baker’s gift, their education may not have been possible.”
WVU alumnus and donor Scott Wilkie (second from right) established a namesake endowment to aid marketing students with support from his family, including (left to right) wife Carol, daughter Claudia and son Andrew. (Submitted photo)
Scott Wilkie was eager to establish his endowment while he was still around to see the impact of his family’s contributions. He is grateful those gifts have grown, and he appreciates the easy-to-understand format of the WVU Foundation reports he receives, which he shares with his wife and children.
“The Foundation managed to do quite well in a difficult year, which is impressive,” Wilkie said. “I would have expected performance to be hit pretty hard. It was really pleasing to see the funds are being invested wisely, there’s stewardship of our dollars along with other donors, and the Foundation is extraordinarily responsible and transparent.”
Wilkie earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing from the John Chambers College of Business and Economics in 1991. His son, Andrew, now attends WVU.
B.J. Davisson, WVU Foundation executive vice president and chief development officer, said he appreciates having the trust and support of donors like Wilkie.
“The WVU Foundation is grateful to our donors for their commitment to advance the University in ways that make an impact,” Davisson said. “Being able to provide sound returns on the monies invested is a cornerstone to the success of this impact."