Bad economy fails to affect alumni donations

February 25, 2010

by Jessica Cassels

As alumni donations decline nationally due to the economy, Tech is on track to meet the contributions made last year by alumni.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009, almost 11 percent of Tech alumni contributed to the university. So far this fiscal year, five percent have made a donation that began July 1, 2009 to present.

The Alumni Association is on its way to reaching 10-11 percent for this fiscal year, said to Corre Stegall, the vice president for university advancement.

“For the current fiscal year we’re seeing almost as many gifts, but the gifts are for smaller amounts,” Stegall said. “Louisiana was slightly behind the rest of the country in feeling the effects of the national economic recession.”

Stegall said experts have told the association that hurricane relief money and the development of a natural gas field the Haynesville Shale area in northwest Louisiana were factors. She said Louisiana is just now feeling the full effect of the economy, and it is reflected in donations.

The Louisiana Tech University Foundation raises funds to support the university. The foundation also assists every college and every program in fundraising.

“Private support for Louisiana Tech means the real difference between adequacy and excellence,” Stegall said. “We’re all aware that the support from the State of Louisiana has been dramatically reduced in the past year. With three major [budget] cuts, the support of alumni, friends and corporations help alleviate the effects of this. If Tech is to continue to excel and grow, private support will be a key factor.”

Stegall said the quality of the Tech student body has never been higher, and the best students are coming to Tech.

“[Students] stay at Tech and graduate in record time with great skills that are sought by employers,” Stegall said. “Alumni, friends and corporations invest in vision, and Tech’s vision as communicated by [Tech President Dan Reneau] is aggressive and mission-driven. Our donors see the accomplishments of Tech students and faculty, and they know that their money is being used wisely, so they give again. It makes sense to put money where it’s having the greatest impact.”

Nathan Pierot, a business and administration graduate student, said donating as an alumnus is something that a new graduate is far from being concerned with.

“Today the majority of students are trying to avoid going back to living with their parents after graduation,” Pierot said. “To do so, they must conserve the majority of their finances to sustain themselves while awaiting a job.”

Pierot also said the majority of students are leaving school with some kind of financial debt that many in the past did not have.

“I just don’t see alumni donations being of concern to students who cannot find a job right after graduation,” Pierot said. “This is the third college degree that I will receive from Tech, so I guess I do owe them something. More than likely it will be many years from now [before I donate], probably close to eight or 10 years.”

Tech Alumnus of the Year Drake Mills said it was seven years after he graduated before he began making donations to the university.

“Donations should come when you are financially comfortable to make them, which isn’t for a while after graduation,” Mills said. “I take pride in being a part of something I can believe in, and knowing my work will help the university reach its goals is great.”

Mills said he gives more to athletics than anything else because they are not recognized as much as academics.

“We have struggled to create the financial basis to get them to the same level of academics,” Mills said. “I am passionate about athletics and being able to give back to them is something that makes me feel good.”