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Posted on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 11:27 a.m.

EMU Foundation reaches $50 million fund-raising goal one year early

By Danielle Arndt

The Eastern Michigan University Foundation reached a milestone this week, surpassing its goal to raise $50 million by an excess of $1.9 million.


Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin

File photo

The foundation is nearly a year ahead of schedule in meeting this mark. It launched its first comprehensive fundraising campaign in April 2010 and projected it would take three years to garner $50 million.

The effort was branded “Invest. Inspire. The campaign for Eastern Michigan University.”

Tom Stevick, executive director of the EMU foundation, said this can only mean good things for the university.

“I think this speaks a lot for the faith and confidence of EMU’s alumni and supporters in the progress of the university,” he said. “I think it shows we have been successful in forming strong connections with the community and our faculty. It’s very exciting.”

Stevick added that this goal was accomplished in an environment of extreme economic challenge and uncertainty makes it that much more significant.

Laura Wilbanks, chief financial officer for the foundation, said the campaign’s success is the direct result of the community’s generosity.

She reported the foundation had a tremendous year in all respects.

The nonprofit organization that’s mission is to enhance educational opportunities at EMU created several new endowments this past fiscal year.

It also gave about $1.4 million to EMU for scholarships and new programs and $3.9 million in expendable gifts, for a total of $5.3 million, Wilbanks said.

From a financial investment standpoint, the foundation recovered its losses from 2009 and posted a 24.4-percent return for 2010-2011.

“The results from other institutions are not available yet, but we believe this will be a very favorable return,” Wilbanks said during a presentation to the Board of Regents Finance Committee on Thursday.

In June, there were concerns about the EMU Foundation not being able to keep up with other universities' fundraising and giving successes.

The EMU foundation's endowment had a market value of $48.2 million as of June 30 - up $7.5 million from June 30, 2010.

EMU President Susan Martin expressed her congratulations and gratitude to the foundation at the Board of Regents meeting Thursday. She said while this is a great accomplishment, she knows it is just the beginning.

“We view this more as the first step - the beginning of an ongoing effort that focuses on Eastern Michigan’s long-term success in producing graduates who are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Stevick said the EMU Foundation will begin working immediately on crafting a new campaign. He expects another giving opportunity of the “Invest. Inspire.” magnitude will be before the public in a year or two.

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:41 p.m.

This is good news and yet the "24.4-percent return for 2010-2011." cited in the article concerns me. ( are you sure that is correct?) How are they getting a 24% return in such a volatile market? The 1 year S&P is returning just less than 8%. Mutual funds earning 15% are fantastic. There aren't any Madoff clones overseeing the investments I hope.

Jim Osborn

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 5:42 p.m.

This is great news for EMU, especially since they have some great professors and students that will benefit. Being an EMU alumnus, (MBA 2008), it would be great if this article can be updated to include how large the EMU endowment is now that this campaign contributed even more to it.