August 23, 2017  

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USM Foundation Boasts Fundraising Record, Tops $20 Million Mark

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The College of Business at Southern Miss will be housed in the new Scianna Hall, depicted in this artist's rendering. A $6 million gift from Chuck and Rita Scianna helped kickoff the fundraising campaign.

The University of Southern Mississippi Foundation has set a new record for gifts and pledges received during a single fiscal year at $20,336,110. The record eclipses the previous mark of $13.9 million from fiscal 2006 by 46 percent and also represents an increase of 300 percent over the amount raised last year. More than 4,620 donors participated in the record-setting effort.

“We were obviously very blessed with some incredible gifts this past year,” said Vice President for University Advancement and Executive Director of the USM Foundation Bob Pierce. “We had some significant donors step forward with substantial gifts as well as tremendous leadership from (former President Martha) Dr. Saunders and others to enhance the efforts of the USM Foundation staff to generate these funds.”

During the recently concluded fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, University officials, USM Foundation staff members and volunteers worked diligently to raise funds for a wide variety of areas, including three of the University’s top fundraising initiatives, the Building Better Business Campaign, the College of Nursing Building Campaign and the DuBard School 50th Anniversary Campaign.

Gifts to the Foundation also helped establish 30 new endowments, award scholarships to more than 1,800 students and increase University employee giving to Southern Miss from 10 percent to 32 percent.

Significant gifts during the 2011-12 fiscal year included $6 million from Chuck and Rita Scianna to support a new building for the College of Business, $4 million from the Luckyday Foundation to aid in construction of a new residence hall for the Luckyday Citizen Scholars, and $4 million from the Asbury Foundation of Hattiesburg to launch the College of Nursing’s campaign for a new, state-of-the-art facility. Each of these gifts will result in the respective building bearing the name of the donor.

“I deeply appreciate the successful work of our Advancement staff in setting a record of private gifts which will move us forward in our vision of greater distinction,” said Dr. Aubrey Lucas, interim president of the University.

In May 2010, the University’s Executive Cabinet adopted a new initiative-based fundraising model for the institution. Moving away from the traditional college-based structure, development officers were centralized to pursue private funding for the University’s top fundraising priorities as determined by the University’s leadership.

Gee Ogletree, an attorney in Jackson, Miss., and the USM Foundation’s president during the 2011-12 year, credited the new model for establishing the structure on which to build the success experienced last year.

“We are very pleased with initiative-based fundraising focusing on the major fundraising priorities identified by the University to meet its strategic objectives,” said Ogletree. “This record-breaking year is a testament to the generosity of alumni, faculty, staff and friends in responding to these initiatives and other opportunities as well as the dedication of the Foundation’s staff and board of directors in carrying out the initiatives.”

As state funding for higher education decreases, Southern Miss relies more than ever on donors to provide private support for the future of the University by investing in its students, faculty and facilities. As efforts to generate charitable contributions for the College of Nursing facility wind down, the University and USM Foundation will shift its focus to building its endowment.

“That is the next phase of enhancing the institution,” said Pierce. “Our endowment is insufficient for an institution the size and educational quality of Southern Miss. We have set a goal to grow the endowment to $100 million by 2017, so hopefully the record fundraising years will continue, allowing us to cement the financial future of the University while providing endowed scholarships for our students and endowed professorships for our faculty.”

Ogletree added, “This year’s success should challenge all of us to do our part to meet the Foundation’s strategic goal of growing the Foundation’s endowment to $100 million over the next five years.”

To learn more about the USM Foundation, call 601.266.5210 or visit: