First active student donates to endowment fund


Donovan WilsonReporter

Paul McKee becomes the very first active student at the university to be a donor towards an endowed scholarship. 

“Paul reached out to the financial aid office asking how to start a scholarship. Michelle Johnston reached out to Paul to teach him what starting a scholarship meant,” said Judite Vamvakides, the assistant vice president of alumni relations. 

 Michelle Johnston, director of donor relations, is on medical leave until June 7, Judite Vamvakides will be managing her regular duties and is taking the lead.  

Paul McKee is a current student and is now the first active student in the school’s history to donate and start a scholarship. His process started by reaching out to the financial aid office, where scholarships mainly run through, and inquiring on how to start a scholarship. Johnston then reached back out to him and informed him on what starting a scholarship really means and how to get everything you need done, in order to get a scholarship, specifically an endowed one started. 

Vamvakides said, “There are two types of scholarships, endowed scholarships and awarded scholarships” 

An endowed scholarship includes a donation of 25 thousand dollars that then collects interest over time and that interest is used to delve out scholarships to students. Donors for an endowed fund have the option to donate five thousand dollars every year for five years to reach the eventual $25,000 if they cannot pay all of it up front. The other option for donors is to do an annual scholarship with a similar payment plan of five years, except the installment plans are much smaller at only $1,000 a year.  

 “Our colleagues at Institutional Advancement informed me about Paul’s intention to create a scholarship fund.  I signed the Memorandum of Understanding and called Paul to thank him,” said Bruce Kalk, dean of the college of arts & sciences.  

As mentioned, McKee is the first ever active student to be a donor of a scholarship at the university. As Vamvakides said, the donors are most commonly either alumni looking to help future southern students or local citizens who really believe in the message southern is pushing, such as their focus towards the social justice movement. . At this year’s day of care, Southern was able to get over 1700 donors to donate over 628 thousand dollars for a variety of different funds, including scholarships. 

Kalk said, “After all, endowed funds are permanent, so literally generations of students will benefit from his generosity”. 

As reported by Vamvakides, endowment funds “live in perpetuity” or lasts forever. Annual scholarships do not work in this same way and are much different. Endowment funds usually generate about $1,000 worth of awards for students but that depends on how the stock market is currently performing, according to Vamvakides. The interest that forms is because the university invests in the donated 25 thousand dollars. 

“I don’t think my little role in this gift merits an interview, but I will gladly let you know about my involvement in it.  Our colleagues at Institutional Advancement informed me about Paul’s intention to create a scholarship fund,” said Kalk.  

The office of institutional advancement had a large role in this process and connected all the right people in order to make it happen. Institutional advancement includes a few different subsections, one of those being alumni relations which Vamvakides is from which usually works closely with getting scholarships done as they are usually donated to by alumni. Institutional advancements is essentially the missing link between inquiring alumni, students, partners, etc. and getting them to the right people.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s