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San Angelo Lifestyles

Angelo State University: Growing Opportunities Through Support

Feb 27, 2020 03:37PM
written by Sabrina Forse | photos provided by Angelo State University 



Angelo State University will celebrate its centennial anniversary in 2028. As the institution of higher learning ushers in the next era, it’s doing so on the same foundation that it was created: community support. San Angelo lost its bid to be the site of Texas Technological College in 1923 but the city battled back with local donations and a county tax to develop San Angelo Junior College in 1928. It later evolved into a four-year school under the name Angelo State University. The community has continued to embrace ASU with record-breaking donor support. Those funds are manifesting themselves as new opportunities for not only physical expansion but with scholarships and new curriculum to recruit and attract more students and faculty. In fall 2019, ASU set a record enrolment of 10,568 students. “Our donor base has been overwhelmingly supportive of our institution which has enabled us to bring more opportunities,” said Jamie Akin, Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations at ASU.





 



Since 2011, donor support has increased 276% going from $7.8 million to $29.4 million in 2018. “We appreciate any size gift people can give. We have people that give 50 cents a month. People can also make cash donations to bequest a planned gift, gifts of stock, real estate property gifts, in-kind gifts, or charitable annuities,” said Akin. “Our job as fundraisers is to connect those donors who have a passion to support higher education to areas they are interested in. My role is understanding the need of the university and how we can connect private funding to make the most impact.”





 


In fall 2019, ASU set a record enrolment of 10,568 students. 




Donor support is responsible for ongoing physical expansion at ASU. Private donations and a generous gift from Richard and B.J. Mayer are funding the construction of a $14.2 million, 31,000 square foot museum. The Mayer Museum which will house the West Texas Collection and offer exhibit space for art students and faculty is set to open in the fall of 2020.  F.L. “Steve” and Pollyanna Stephens gifted $1.925 million dollars for the construction of a 3,100 square foot chapel. The Stephens Chapel is the second building named after the benefactors whose name you also see at the Stephens Arena inside the Junell Center.  “Both facilities are possible because generous donors, committed to our students’ campus experience stepping forward with amazing gifts. Each gift is invaluable in ensuring the quality of our campus and educational offerings,” said Dr. Brian May, ASU President. A $5 million gift from the James B. & Louis R. Archer Charitable Foundation allowed ASU to expand its health and services curriculum. The new facilities are now the Archer College of Health and Human Services.





 



Expanding curriculum is key to attracting more students. “We added a mechanical engineering degree this past fall. We were able to do that in part because of the donation made for civil engineering. We added our first civil engineering class three and a half years ago and have graduated thirteen civil engineers already,” said Don Topliff, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost. A $4.5 million donation made it possible for ASU to build the Hunter Strain Engineering Labs.




 


“Our donor base has been overwhelmingly supportive of our institution which has enabled us to bring more opportunities.” 

                                          -Jamie Akin | Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations



ASU was able to add an economics degree after establishing the Free Market Institute. “The donor had established one at Texas Tech University already and was interested in having students learn about capitalism and free markets, ” said Topliff. “That has not only allowed us to establish an economics degree but also added faculty and instructors who have joint appointments with Texas Tech.”



Donations can also help fund faculty and scholarships. ASU currently has six endowed chairs. An endowment is when ASU invests the donation and uses the investment income for a specific purpose. “Having a significant endowment funding the university is a large accomplishment and provides ongoing stability to the university,” said Akin.





 


 
It’s that continued support that is allowing ASU to distinguish itself when recruiting. “At May commencement ceremonies, I announced that 40% of the class was graduating without debt while at ASU and 70% of the class completed their education having a Carr Academic Scholarship at some point. That is, quite simply, a tribute to our incredible donors,” said Dr. May.




 


 “Alumni have been a great resource but we also have others in San Angelo who didn’t go ASU but still want to donate. They simply see the quality education and the impact ASU is making on students and want to support higher education in their community.” 

                                       -Jamie Akin | Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations





As enrollment increases, ASU only expects its donor support to grow as well. “Our alumni base is one of our greatest assets. We have 45,000 alumni and have seen a lot of membership growth through the alumni organization and Ram Club,” said Akin. “Alumni have been a great resource but we also have others in San Angelo who didn’t go ASU but still want to donate. They simply see the quality education and the impact ASU is making on students and want to support higher education in their community.” †
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