Despite news that the University’s endowment dipped below $1 billion this year, GW’s Board of Trustees optimistically charted goals for next year in their final meeting of the academic year on Friday.
The Board enthusiastically discussed expanding the University’s research opportunities, improving GW’s Virginia campus and soliciting additional donations for projects like the Smith Center and the proposed Science and Engineering Complex at its general meeting in the Elliott School building on Friday morning.
“We would like to make the Virginia campus an integral part of the George Washington University,” said Trustee Mark Hughes, outlining some of the Board’s goals for the part of campus located in Ashburn, Va.
Hughes said the trustees hoped to establish a permanent committee dedicated to overseeing developments at the Virginia campus and begin a legislative agenda for the campus that could include “regular meetings” with government leaders in Richmond, Va.
“We are the largest private University in Virginia and there are opportunities for direct support,” he said.
After the general meeting, the Board went into executive session – which is closed to the public. The trustees discussed financial matters, and an executive financial report prepared by Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz stated that the University’s endowment fell to $995.7 million in March of 2009, just shy of the billion-dollar mark reached in 2007.
The endowment’s return for the 12 months leading up to March 2009 was about negative 21 percent, the financial report stated. Katz has noted on multiple occasions that the University’s endowment has fluctuated above and below the billion-dollar mark several times this year because of the turbulent stock market.
After being briefed about the University’s finances in executive session, the Board passed next year’s budget, University President Steven Knapp said in an e-mail Friday. The budget includes $20.5 million for renovations to Ames and Lafayette Halls, and $25 to $31 million for additional below-grade parking, according to the financial report.
As of March of this year, the University had raised around $55 million, the report added. That number is nearly equal to the number from March of 2008, and University attempts to strengthen alumni relations both at home and abroad may have helped keep donations steady.
“We are staffed up, in [Vice President for Advancement] Laurel Price Jones’ area, to strengthen this community around this world,” Knapp said at Friday’s Board meeting.
He added, “We’re interested in seeing what we can do to improve our visibility internationally.”