Foundation rakes in cash

Many universities in the country have no university foundations and do not offer scholarships. Washburn University is fortunate to not only have a foundation that does so, but to have one of the top in the nation.

Many students may be unaware of the people who work behind the scenes to acquire the scholarships granted to so many of the students attending Washburn University. The Washburn University Foundation is the entity whereby these endowments find their way to thousands of individuals who attend Washburn University every year.

The successes of the foundation, which is located across from the Washburn University School of Law, have made it notable in the past few years as it has hugely increased its assets. Those assets increased by 22 percent in the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Every year, the National Association of College and University and the National Commonfund Study of Endowment conduct an annual study of approximately 770 participating colleges. The Washburn University Foundation ranked in the top five percent of university foundations in investment returns for the last fiscal year.

 “Washburn has a long and rich tradition of giving,” said JuliAnn Mazachek, president of the foundation. “This last fiscal year (we) reported $25,957 of endowment per full time equivalent student—an amazing amount.”

Mazachek said that most of the donations come from Washburn alumni. Many of them have a vested interest because of the faculty and notable teachers who helped to get them where they are today.

In the 2010-2011 academic year, $6.95 million privately funded scholarships were awarded. More than 1,800 students received privately funded scholarships in the same year.

“The foundation exists to help Washburn students go to school,” said Kathy Busch, director of communications and annual giving. “The biggest percentage of our fundraising is for scholarships. We exist to support the university and to make high quality education available to as many students as possible.”

Busch said that scholarships make the difference between whether or not an individual can go to school.

“Our goal is to really make education available to as many students as possible through privately funded scholarships,” said Busch.

Busch said that more than 50 percent of all donations go to student scholarships. Other funds are allocated for professorships, to attract and retain the high quality faculty we have and for various programs across campus. Foundation dollars also go toward keeping  class sizes small, where the student-teacher ratio is so effective in the learning process here at Washburn.

Busch is in charge of the student phone-a-thon, where students are hired to telephone alumni in an effort to bring in donations. Along with the many things the foundation does that have made it such a success, this has turned out to be one. It brings a personal touch when alumni are able to talk to the students of today.

Mazachek said that overall there is great impact made through efforts from the foundation and its donors.

 “[It] would not be possible without the dedicated work of the faculty and staff of today and those before us who touched so many lives,” said Mazachek. “The donors of today were truly charged by their education at Washburn and are committed to ensuring those opportunities for the students of tomorrow.”

Busch also had some words for future alumni.

“[Alumni] had a wonderful opportunity here to get a really good education,” said Busch. “I would hope that as they go out to pursue their dreams and careers that they remember the things they learned here and the people who helped them–that their experience here was so important that they would want other students to experience that same opportunity by volunteering, by mentoring students or with financial support.”