Hollins has accepted a challenge from philanthropist and alumna Jane Parke Batten '58 of Norfolk to raise $5 million by December 2013 in order to receive a matching grant of the same amount. Successfully meeting the challenge will enhance the funding of scholarships for students who wish to attend Hollins and participate in the university's Batten Leadership Institute; scholarships for current Hollins students who want to earn a Certificate in Leadership Studies; and scholarships for other deserving students.
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Scholarships and Fellowships
Q: Can Hollins rest on its laurels now and take a little breather from fundraising?
A: Not for a second! While I myself will be taking a long breather, Hollins can’t afford to let up. All colleges and universities, especially private liberal arts colleges, are suffering in this economy. Families have taken a huge hit, so they are shopping for lower tuition and more financial aid. Meeting those challenges can raise costs significantly at institutions; even put them in financial peril. Thanks to the campaign’s success, Hollins is sound but it is still challenged.
Q: Are there short-term solutions?
A: The most obvious is increasing the Hollins Fund. If Hollins were a family, this fund could be thought of as income from a night job - extra money needed every year just to balance the family budget. If the "night job" starts paying more, obviously, the family has more money to pass around. Last year, the Hollins Fund amounted to $2.87 million, about 10 percent of the total budget. Readers with ideas about how Hollins can raise more from its "night job" should contact Hollins Fund staffers at 540-362-6498 or 800-846-5371. And feel free to give to the fund online at www.hollins.edu/giveonline.
Q: I thought you were taking a breather from fundraising?
A: The habit is hard to shake.
Q: Looking ahead, what will keep Hollins strong?
A: It’s no secret that endowment is critical. And Hollins’ endowment is still too small.
Q: Didn’t the campaign meet its endowment goals?
A: Unfortunately, no. Our endowment goal was $78 million, and we came up $17 million short.
Q: How did that happen?
A: Hollins began the campaign with a lengthy list of long-term needs, donors oversubscribed in certain areas, such as renovations to our historic buildings and investing in infrastructure. This is, of course, a wonderful thing and will pay off for a long, long time. Donors also enabled Hollins to eliminate all its debt, a monumental achievement. But we still need more endowment for such things as scholarships, student and faculty programs, and a host of other necessities and extras that will continue to attract promising young women to Hollins.
Q: How does our endowment compare with that of our competitors in Virginia?
A: Quite well. When this campaign started in 2002, our endowment was $85 million, 10% smaller than Sweet Briar’s and a whopping 34% below that of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (now coed and known as Randolph College). At the end of fiscal 2009 (June 30, after the market crash) our endowment was 50% higher than Sweet Briar’s and only 10% below Randolph’s. Comparable figures for 2010 aren’t available, but Hollins’ endowment had rebounded to more than $146 million as of the end of 2010. In summary our endowment rose by 65 percent over the eight years of this campaign, while many other private colleges in Virginia suffered stagnant or falling endowments.
Q: How does our endowment compare with that at other U.S. women’s colleges?
A: Not nearly as well. Again, the comparable data is old (June 30, 2009). Those figures show that endowment-per-undergraduate-student (a better measure than total endowment when enrollment differences are significant) was far lower at Hollins than at, say, Mount Holyoke or Agnes Scott. The figure for Hollins was $140,000 vs. $225,000 at Mount Holyoke and $274,000 at Agnes Scott. Of course, virtually all colleges and universities except Hollins also have significant debt per student, so Hollins is better off than these comparisons suggest.
Q: What’s a reasonable goal for the Hollins endowment?
A: Personally, I hope we will double our endowment-per-student by 2020.
Q: How can we get there?
A: We’ll need skill and luck in the way we manage our investments and we’ll need to keep balancing our budgets, something President Gray has done in each of the last six years. And, of course, we’ll need more gifts for endowment.
Q: Any thoughts about how to inspire that kind of giving?
A: Our alumnae are already inspired. My classmate Jane Batten has promised $5 million for endowment if Hollins can raise that much by December of 2013 for scholarships for students seeking to participate in the Batten Leadership Institute.
Q: Well, give us a hint. If you hadn’t retired from fundraising, what would be your pitch when it comes to meeting Jane Batten’s challenge?
A: Simply put, the Batten Leadership Institute has no equal anywhere when it comes to the education of women leaders. It is utterly unique and groundbreaking. Since it is so new, it is actually better known to experts in the field of leadership than to our alumnae. I just spent half a day with the program’s faculty and some of its students; I left wishing every young woman I love could be a part of something so brilliantly led and so life-changing.