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Poor economy means fewer SOU cholarships

ASHLAND ' An ailing economy means there may be about &

36;30,000 less for scholarships from the Southern Oregon University Foundation next school year.

The foundation's endowed funds declined nearly 11 percent from &

36;9.5 million to &

36;8.5 million during 2002. Total assets declined 8 percent from &

36;13 million to &

36;12 million during the same time.

The average college endowment nationally shrank 6 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2002, according to a survey of 660 institutions compiled by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. Changes ranged from a 19.8 percent loss to 10.1 percent gain.

The SOU foundation awarded &

36;310,000 through 111 scholarships during the current academic year. the end of June, a total of &

36;455,000 will have been awarded.

The total amount might be down about 5 to 7 percent next year, said Ron Theberge, foundation director of finance and administration. Academic departments could choose to reduce either the size or number of scholarships they award.

Jon Mitchell, foundation executive director, said a reduction doesn't have to happen if donations increase. He points to two recent anonymous donations totaling &

36;900,000 earmarked for scholarships as examples of the types of gifts that could mean more student help next year. The foundation is also exploring the sale of land it has received.

With any luck, we will be able to fund additional scholarships, said Mitchell.

Music scholarships remained at the same level this year as last, said Rhett Bender, department chairman. But he suspects the number of scholarships will decrease next year.

The economy's slowdown hadn't really sunk in, he said. The earnings on some endowments were a little bit low. But I don't think they were nearly as low as they'll be this year.

The university and academic departments offer scholarships separately from the foundation. High school graduates also may bring scholarships awarded within their communities.

Earnings retained during years of double-digit returns in the late 1990s have allowed the foundation to continue support to the university for scholarships and other enhancements.

Foundation investment policy aims to earn back money disbursed from an endowment and to account for inflation, said Theberge. Typically, 5 percent is disbursed. It's kind of an industry number, he said.

Giving has declined to &

36;670,000 during the six months that ended in December from &

36;1.3 million for the same period in 2001, Mitchell said. An annual campaign is under way to raise &

36;175,000 in unrestricted funds that can be spent at the foundation board's discretion. Last year the campaign had a goal of &

36;110,000 and brought in &

36;90,000.

A &

36;3.5 million campaign for enhancements to the library's expansion and remodeling project will be launched in the near future. The foundation already has raised &

36;790,000 of the total through gifts and grants.

Library work will begin next month. The state has issued &

36;20 million in bonds to finance construction. Furniture and fixed equipment will be purchased with the campaign money after the building is finished.

There's tremendous enthusiasm for it, said Mitchell. It will be several large gifts that will allow us to get to (the goal), rather than many, many small gifts.

About 30 grant requests were sent out. Four grants were received. Grants are difficult in this economy, said Mitchell.

Reach Ashland bureau reporter Tony Boom at 482-4651, or e-mail

RCC Foundation assets decline

Rogue Community College Foundation assets have declined a half-million dollars in value since June 2001. The organization now has &

36;4.7 million in endowed and unrestricted funds and property.

We have seen a lot of loss in our endowment, said Julie Rubenstein, interim director. No endowment-based scholarships will be awarded in 2003-2004 because of the decrease.

But donations for one-time scholarships will allow the foundation to award more than the &

36;164,000 it gave out this year. The foundation is &

36;27,000 short of its &

36;200,000 scholarship goal for next year.

A &

36;50,000 program that supported instructors' educational projects has been put on hold because of the lack of funds.

Land given to the foundation outside Grants Pass will be put up for sale. If we sell this land, we'll realize a lot of income, said Rubenstein. It's an asset that doesn't generate income.