On Monday, March 27, Monmouth University announced its largest single gift in the institution’s history, a donation of $21 million from an anonymous donor. The donation, in accordance with the benefactor’s wishes, will go towards establishing a scholarship that benefits high-achieving undergraduate students with the greatest financial risk, thus allowing them access to a private university education that they may not otherwise have the means to afford.
“[This donation] is the largest donation by a factor of four. All of it will be paid in cash over the next three years to create a permanent endowment,” remarked University President Patrick Leahy, Ed.D. “The donor wants no recognition and wishes to remain anonymous. It is the greatest show of philanthropy that I’ve experienced in my 20-year career in higher education.”
Twenty of the $21 million will be put into a permanent endowment; the remaining one million will immediately help launch the scholarship program, according to Amanda Klaus ’09, Vice President for University Advancement. As the invested $20 million gains interest year after year, the University will utilize the dividends for the scholarship.
“Monmouth University’s endowment policy is set at a five percent return. The $20 million endowed scholarship will therefore yield approximately one million dollars every year in perpetuity,” explained Klaus. “Like all of our donor funded scholarships, the Financial Aid Office will be responsible for selecting eligible scholarship recipients, while ensuring that the donor’s intention of aiding high-achieving students with high financial risk is met.”
The one million dollars will be used in the short-term, while the endowment is invested and accrues interest. The Financial Aid will utilize the same criteria as set forth for the endowed scholarship to begin making an impact on deserving students in the upcoming academic year. Klaus summarized, “Once fully matured, the endowed scholarship will have the potential to support up to a hundred students with approximately ten thousand dollar scholarships every year.”
A gift of this magnitude is a first for the University, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. Leahy explained how this unprecedented gift will go towards the University’s mission of marrying quality education and accessibility. “A gift like this advances our goal of being a national leader at integrating excellence and access,” he said.
According to Klaus, the anonymity of the donor makes this gift all the more special. Klaus, who worked intimately with the donor to codify their gift, said, “Every donor has different motivations, and expectations for recognition. Many would think that a donor who is making this significant of a gift would want equal notoriety. In this instance, I find the donor made this decision for the sole purpose of helping Monmouth students now and in the future, and I find this to be incredibly selfless and inspirational.”
Due to the transformational nature of this scholarship, Leahy and Klaus hope that this donation will inspire other donors to contribute to the University’s mission of making a quality education accessible. “In the long run, I hope generations of students will come to Monmouth and have their lives positively transformed by our first-rate faculty and dedicated staff. In the short run, I hope it prompts other people who care about Monmouth to support our current fundraising campaign,” emphasized Leahy.
“I hope [this donation] ignites spirit and inspires our entire community—our faculty and staff, alumni and friends, patrons and fans, parents, and most importantly, our students,” Klaus concluded. “This gift exemplifies just how special Monmouth University, and all of the people who are a part of our community, truly are.”