[UPDATE] Momentum Campaign to bolster scholarships, endowment

Nicole Brown, News Editor

UPDATE Sept. 4, 2013: Vice President of Enrollment Management Randall Deike provided more information about how the money from the Momentum Campaign will be used.

Deike said it is possible that the fund will go toward new scholarships that require an application, but that is not the priority.

“It is more likely that the additional aid would be awarded without the need for an application,” Deike said. “It is very important, though, to know that this campaign will increase the amount of financial aid available, not help support the grants and scholarships already awarded.”

It is also possible that current students will benefit from the funding as they continue to study at NYU, but Deike explained that since Momentum is a new campaign, the benefit depends on how quickly the university raises funds.

Deike also said the details of how much of the fundraising that will go toward the endowment versus financial aid is still not decided.

“It is likely that some of the funding will be in the form of gifts and not endowment, but our primary goal is to build financial aid endowment,” Deike said.

Deike said the university is committed to raising financial aid funds and hopes donors will understand the positive effect their contribution will make to NYU students.

“[This] is John Sexton’s highest fundraising goal, and we are also working very hard to make certain we continue to award financial aid in a very strategic way making sure we get the limited funds we have to the students with the most financial need,” Dieke said.

NYU President John Sexton sent an email to the NYU community on Aug. 27 outlining his priorities for the beginning of this semester, including a fundraising campaign called the Momentum Campaign.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $1 billion in six years for scholarships.

“This is something we have been considering because of a basic need of our students,” said Debra LaMorte, senior vice president of University Development and Alumni Relations.

LaMorte explained in a telephone interview that the university has been considering this campaign for over a year, and that it is not a part of President Barack Obama’s college affordability plan.

LaMorte said that last year, the university raised over $112 million for scholarship support for undergraduates and graduates, specifically targeting the Partners of NYU, who are a group of trustees who donated gifts of $5 to $10 million.

Board of Trustees members Martin Lipton, Anthony Welters, Leonard Wilf, William Berkley, Helen Kimmel, and Larry and Klara Silverstein, as well as the Starr Foundation have already donated to the campaign, giving the university a $70 million head start.

The campaign will also reach out to alumni and parents for contributions.

While the goal is to earn $1 billion in six years, that money is in the form of pledges and will not be accessible to NYU right away.

“When someone makes a gift of $1 million for a scholarship, it’s not as though that $1 million is going to drop in to the NYU bank on the same day that the gift is made,” LaMorte said.

Pledges are paid over a period of five years, and NYU will use the donations for scholarships or towards the university’s endowment.

“What we are trying to do is balance the current needs for scholarships for our students versus the long-term need to build endowment because we are so far behind our peers,” LaMorte said, acknowledging that NYU does not have as much endowments as other top universities, such as Ivy League colleges.

Donors also choose where their pledge money is utilized. For example, donors can choose to help student’s need-based scholarships only, or first-generation college students, or students from New York City.

Donors may also decided they would rather donate to other university expenses, including the construction of new buildings. NYU may make suggestions about where donors should give money, but ultimately the donors decide.

But the donations to the Momentum Campaign will all be used for scholarship support.

“The Momentum Campaign is designed to raise as much scholarship money that will then go to help students to increase the amount of money the university can give them towards meeting their scholarship needs,” LaMorte said.

LaMorte said other than the goal to have $1 billion of pledges over the course of six years, there are not specific goals for each year, as there are many factors that affect how much money is raised each year.

“It’d be nice to have a straight line that says each year we are going to raise $150 million, but it usually doesn’t work that way,” LaMorte said.

Nicole Brown is a news editor. Email her at [email protected].