image of memorial union in fall

Dear university colleagues,

Congratulations on the start of another academic year at Oregon State University. While our circumstances may be different this year, I remain optimistic about our university’s future.

With that in mind, it is my honor to update you, our university partners, on our progress from the last few months and give you a sneak peek of what lies ahead for the OSU Foundation and the OSU Alumni Association.

By the Numbers

Fundraising: Donors have given nearly $26.8 million this year, which is a strong start to the year despite the disruptions in the world right now, and ahead of our five-year average of $24.7M for the first quarter. Even though it is still early in the fiscal year, we will do our best to maintain our momentum as we strive to reach our baseline fundraising goal of $123 million by June 30.

Engagement: Between July 1 and September 1, nearly 7,000 people engaged with the university. This engagement data measures participation, volunteering and giving. It’s important to track engagement for a variety of reasons; we need volunteers to help expand the university’s reach, and we need input on what type of content our constituents would like to know more about. And, obviously, engaged people are more likely to give over time. Participation includes attending an event, such as the more than 600 guests who have attended our Knowledge Breaks webcasts since their inception; this popular series showcases timely faculty research and expertise.

OSU Foundation Vital Few Goals for FY21

Each year the Foundation determines a set of “vital few goals” that guides our work. These goals are directly tied to advancing our strategic plan, which in turn supports the university’s strategic plan 4.0. There are detailed plans with staff assigned to the various strategies and tactics behind each of the following high-level goals for FY21.

  1. Partner with university colleagues to raise between $123M (baseline goal) and $150M (stretch goal).
  2. Advance the plan for the Campaign.
  3. Partner with university colleagues to engage 25,000 unique participants and 2,800 unique volunteers to advance the university’s priority outcomes of educational and student success; diversity, equity and inclusion; and advocacy.
  4. Partner with the university to welcome President F. King Alexander.
  5. Define our post-pandemic “new normal” for workforce and talent management practices.
  6. Advance the university through an enterprise approach to OSU Foundation and OSU Alumni Association marketing, communications, events and stewardship.
  7. In alignment with our Enterprise Risk Management plan, execute the FY21 Business Continuity plan, including scenarios for various budget situations.
  8. Advance the digital transformation of our organization.
image of OSU student Ruta Faifaiese

During a joint session for the OSU Foundation and OSU Alumni Association boards, OSU student Ruta Faifaiese shared her perspective as a peer mentor with EOP's Bridge Program. In this role, she helps fellow first-generation students with their transition into college.

OSU Foundation and OSU Alumni Association Board Meetings

The OSU Foundation and the OSU Alumni Association held their annual joint board meeting on September 24-25. In joint sessions, our volunteer leaders engaged in generative discussions about the university’s future, including Athletics, as well as with student leaders in the Educational Opportunities Program.

I want to express my gratitude to everyone who took time to speak to our boards, including President F. King Alexander, Provost Ed Feser, Vice Provost Alix Gitelman, vice presidents Scott Barnes, Steve Clark and Mike Green, Head Coach Jonathan Smith, Dean Larry Rodgers, Executive Director of EOP Janet Nishihara and Executive Director of Government Relations Katie Fast. My thanks to Assistant Vice President Scott Vignos, Professor Dwaine Plaza and Erika McCalpine, director of the OSU-Cascades Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Laboratory, who participated in the Alumni Association meeting.

At the meetings, the Foundation board approved our Memorandum of Understanding with the university (as we do each fall). This document outlines how OSU and the Foundation work together to advance the university’s mission. Other items included a review of last year’s progress against our Vital Few Goals as well as a discussion of this year's VFGs, and our action plan to advance diversity, equity and inclusion with clear steps for FY21. See below for more information on this action plan.

We also welcomed five new members to the Foundation board and six to the Alumni Association board. Read more about them.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

While the OSU Foundation has always been committed to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), recent events prompted us to reexamine our efforts. With the thoughtful guidance of Provost Feser and Charlene Alexander, vice president and chief diversity officer, we developed our new DEI action plan. Our plan outlines concrete and measurable outcomes to be completed this fiscal year, including increasing the diversity of our pipeline of volunteer leaders and staff, and is aligned with and supportive of the university’s goals.
As part of this action plan, we will soon launch a fundraising and engagement initiative to inspire our community to support existing, impactful DEI programs as well as help launch new, innovative ideas and/or engage with us to advance these efforts at OSU. Stay tuned for more details on this.

image of osu student

Scholarship Match Program

We are grateful to the office of enrollment management for partnering with us to create a new scholarship matching program. Now, when donors make a commitment of $50,000 or more to create a qualifying scholarship endowment, the university will provide funds so the scholarship can be awarded right away, even if the gift is scheduled to be paid over five years. To date, donors have stepped forward with ten gifts, totaling more than $650K. Congratulations to the seven colleges who have already secured gifts through this match program: Business, Engineering, Forestry, Honors, Liberal Arts, Public Health and Human Sciences and Science.

Women’s Giving Circle

I am pleased to share that the OSU Women’s Giving Circle (WGC) recently gave its 1-millionth dollar in grant funding. The WGC is a group of alumnae and friends who pool their donations to fund vital and innovative grants for university programs. I look forward to the continued growth of this high-impact group.

The Foundation’s OSU Loyal Philanthropic Partner Award

To celebrate and honor OSU faculty and staff who support and promote philanthropy across OSU, the Foundation created the OSU Loyal Philanthropic Partner Award. The OSU Loyal Committee will evaluate nominees for final award selection and recognition at the OSU Loyal Celebration in late fall. Do you know someone who deserves this award? Click here to nominate them before the October 28 deadline.

Filling Vacant Positions and Reorganization

Due to the pandemic, we were not able to fill vacant positions over the last several months like we normally would. I am pleased to share that we are now beginning to invite people to join the OSU Foundation again. Our primary focus is to fill our open fundraising positions that have the most direct effect on revenue, in addition to a few other strategically important functions.

We are also taking advantage of the disruption to reorganize our teams to better position us to meet our ambitious goals. We added a fundraiser to the central scholarships team to bolster our efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at OSU. We also reorganized our advancement services team, which oversees our research and information technology needs, so we can better meet our highest priority outcomes.

Thank You

Thank you for your continued partnership, and please let me know if you have questions about any of these updates.


Shawn L. Scoville
President and CEO, OSU Foundation