In the four years since the West Virginia Research Trust Fund was established by the state Legislature, private donors have contributed $35 million to West Virginia University, bringing in a total of $70 million targeted to specific programs – and exhausting the current available dollar-for-dollar match from the state.
“I want to thank our donors for their incredible support over the past few years,” President Jim Clements said. “Through their generosity, in tough economic times, WVU has built a strong foundation of support for projects that directly help the State, as well as provide opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to participate in world class research with the highest caliber faculty and research staff at WVU.
“I also want to thank all of the State and University leaders who made the program possible,” he said. “Our University, and West Virginia, is a better, stronger place because of their efforts. We have more donors ready to participate, so we are hopeful of continued support from the legislature for this economic development and research initiative.”
WVU Health Sciences Chancellor Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., said, “We are grateful for the wisdom of the Legislature in recognizing that the Research Trust Fund would be a tremendous incentive for our generous donors. These funds transform lives; they help us to attract and retain faculty to lead the research efforts that will lift the health and quality of life of West Virginians.”
The state Legislature created the Research Trust Fund in 2008 with an initial appropriation of $50 million – $35 million for WVU, $15 million for Marshall – and a focus on economic development, job growth and health care. The universities are able to tap into this fund to double private gifts. At WVU, the funds are used for biomedical sciences, energy, biometrics and nanotechnology. All gifts must be received by March 2015 to qualify.
Click to hear Inside WVU on the Research Trust Fund.
From March 2008 through December 2011, the WVU Foundation received $35 million in gifts and pledges under the RTF program. The final two contributions are expected to be approved for match when the WVU Board of Governors meets in February. The program has resulted in 160 separate endowments being created, resulting in $70 million in combined funds. The money is invested long-term with the interest used to fund the various research programs and initiatives set up by donors.
“Raising private dollars to match the state appropriation has remained the top priority of our development team ever since the legislation was passed,” said Wayne King, WVU Foundation president and CEO. “The unstable economy presented a challenge initially, but over the past year, donors have really stepped up. Raising $35 million that will be equally matched is a testament that supporters understand the importance of research at WVU.”
Some of the major gifts received under the program include:
- $11 million from Ben and Jo Statler for research support and undergraduate scholarships at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.
- $1 million from Stu and Joyce Robbins to establish the Stuart M. & Joyce N. Robbins Distinguished Professorship in epidemiology, the first endowed chair in the new School of Public Health.
- $1 million from George Bennett to support research in energy, nanotechnology, biomedical sciences and biometrics within the Statler College.
- $750,000 from the Chambers Family Foundation for the John and June Chambers Chair of Oncology Research in the School of Medicine.
- $1 million for the Maier Foundation Chair in Research in Medicine at Health Sciences’ Charleston Division.
- Also, more than $307,000 has been raised for the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment.
“WVU’s Research Trust Fund success stands as a tribute to three outstanding characteristics,” said Mridul Gautam, WVU associate vice president for research. “First, our University’s range of talented researchers and the important work they perform to help make people’s lives better; second, the vision of key benefactors who recognize the potential of that work; and third, the focused leadership of the University and the WVU Foundation in pursuit of the opportunities that the Research Trust Fund makes possible. We are delighted with this success and remain committed to our mission of discovery and service through research and innovation.”
WVU intends to ask the Legislature to consider adding additional funds to the West Virginia Research Trust Fund for both WVU and Marshall to have available in securing additional private research dollars.
“We have several donors who have expressed a serious interest in making gifts for research at WVU if their gifts were matched by RTF,” said Lyn Dotson, WVU Foundation senior vice president for development. “One donor made a year-end gift of nearly $5 million which meets the RTF requirements; however, we have no Research Trust funds available. If there are no additional matching dollars from the Legislature, then the donor intends to change the purpose of the gift to address a non-research need. We are hopeful that the state can identify additional funding for the Research Trust initiative. The state, the University and the donor are all winners with additional RTF funds.”
CONTACT: Lyn Dotson, WVU Foundation
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.