Alumni and Friends Give $3.5 Million to HSU

Humboldt State University received more than $3.5 million from almost 8,300 donors in the last fiscal year. Also, the value of gifts from parents shot up 76 percent from the previous year.


Humboldt State University’s friends, family and alumni gave $3.5 million in the last fiscal year. / Humboldt State University

“It was gratifying to see our alumni and friends continue to support HSU, given the state of the economy and trends in higher education,” said Rob Gunsalus, Humboldt State’s Vice President of Advancement, who oversees the University’s fundraising and marketing efforts.

HSU students and programs received $3,538,430 last year. The increase in parental giving can be attributed to a number of factors, including a successful phone-a-thon and expanded communication with parents through an online network and Humboldt magazine. “We are so pleased that parents responded when we reached out to them,” said Gunsalus. “It shows that they appreciate the important work Humboldt State does at a crucial time in their students’ lives.”

In addition to the $3.5 million received, last year the HSU Advancement Foundation distributed more than $640,000 to the campus from its endowment, which was valued at $15.7 million as of June 30, 2009. Those funds went to academic programs across campus including Oceanography and Fisheries, the Schatz Energy Research Center, the performing arts, athletics and scholarships awarded directly to students.

HSU also saw a substantial rise in the amount of grant money received from corporations and foundations, which jumped 40 percent. Gunsalus said the increase is a testament to the quality of HSU’s academic programs and the innovative and important research carried out by faculty every day.

The biggest state funding cuts in Humboldt State’s history are putting unprecedented pressure on its current operations, and donations have a real impact. Last year, gifts supported the new Library Café, new Smart Classroom technology, equipment for the Behavioral and Social Sciences Building and student scholarships, among many other items. “These gifts truly enrich students’ experience here at HSU,” said Laura Jackson, Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations.

Donors last year included:
• The Po and Helen Chung Foundation, which gave $50,000 for the George Allen Fish Collection Trust. Po Chung graduated from HSU in 1969 with a degree in fisheries management and went on to co-found the Asia Pacific division of DHL Express.
• Steve Brown, who pledged $53,000 for football scholarships. Brown came to HSU to play football and graduated in 1969. He is now President and CEO of Nexgen Pharma.
• Gifts to the Smullin Scholarship Endowment, which exceeded $1 million. William B. Smullin, pioneer of radio, television, and cable television, established the foundation with the mission to help educate the citizens of northern California and Oregon.
• James Jennings, who gave $25,000 for the Greg Jennings Endowed Scholarship in memory of his son Greg Jennings, a graduate of HSU (‘99 B.S. Botany, and ’03 M.A. Biological Sciences).

“Our donors show real leadership in supporting our mission of providing access to an affordable, high-quality education,” said Jackson. “Gifts like these will have an impact at the University for many years to come.”

The amount of donations received reflects a 1 percent slip from the previous year, but is a solid result compared to the nearly 4 percent average decline projected at colleges and universities nationwide. In fact, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education projects that colleges and universities will see an average decline in giving of 3.9 percent for the 2008-2009 academic year. In that light, HSU’s results are particularly strong.

The alumni giving participation rate, 8.8 percent, fell from a record 10 percent the previous year, but it remains a high point in the University’s fundraising. It is almost double the peer group average and is one of the highest in the California State University system.

Jackson said that this year’s fundraising effort is already showing great promise. Alumni and parent giving are ahead of where they were last year at this time and employee giving has tripled over last year, to $30,000 so far. Humboldt State has also launched a planned giving program, which will help continue the momentum.

For more information about giving at HSU and the Advancement Foundation, visit: www.humboldt.edu/giving