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Bee Thao

Freshman Bee Thao received a McGuire Scholarship

Gift receipts

$181 million in private gifts was raised for fiscal year 2006, continuing a decade's worth of growth in University fund raising.

By Steve Anderson

Sept. 15, 2006; updated Sept. 27

Earlier this month, the University of Minnesota announced that an impressive $181 million in private gifts was raised in fiscal year 2006, continuing an upward trend that began a decade ago, slightly outpacing last year's total, and eclipsing the 2004 tally by 25 percent.

Thanks in part to the ongoing Promise of Tomorrow Scholarship Drive and reflecting one of the University's top fund-raising priorities, support of students was especially strong. More than 21,000 donors--a record number--made gifts totaling $54 million for student support. That's up 52 percent from the prior year and more than four times the amount raised a decade ago.

"We want all students with the desire and ability to succeed at the U to have the opportunity to do so, regardless of their economic backgrounds," says University President Robert Bruininks. "Alumni and friends are helping us do this. Their gifts are making a significant difference in increasing the numbers of students we can help each year."

"[This scholarship] takes the load off my parents because they don't have to worry about paying for my education," says Thao, who is considering a pre-med major with an eye toward becoming a pediatrician. "That takes a load off my mind, too, and helps me concentrate on my studies."

Bee Thao is one of those students. One of eight children, Thao says that the cost of college would have put a major burden on his machinist father and seamstress mother. But thanks in part to a privately funded McGuire Scholarship, Thao entered the U this fall without worrying about huge debts or working long hours.

"It takes the load off my parents because they don't have to worry about paying for my education," says Thao, who is considering a pre-med major with an eye toward becoming a pediatrician. "That takes a load off my mind, too, and helps me concentrate on my studies."

Alumni support on the rise Nearly 50,000 alumni gave $83 million to the U during fiscal year 2006, up 51 percent from last year. Alumni and other donors designate how they want their gifts to be used, whether for the college or department they care about most, for general scholarships to help students across the University, or for other purposes.

If the trend in alumni giving continues, it will play a vital role in helping the University achieve its long-term goals, says Bruininks. "Becoming one of the best public research institutions in the world requires a commitment from everyone associated with the University," he says. "Faculty, staff, and students will be engaged like never before and alumni support will be critical."

The $181 million raised includes cash gifts and pledges, as well as other future commitments such as bequests and trusts, and gifts made to all U campuses, colleges and departments. Gifts are made through the University of Minnesota Foundation, which is the central development office for the University and reports on all fund-raising results; and the Minnesota Medical Foundation, which raises funds for health-related research, education, and service at the University.