The Associated Students of the University of Portland (ASUP) has decided to pull $375,000 out of the quasi endowment fund to donate to the new Welcome and Engagement Center that is a part of the 2027 strategic plan. The donation will be given in increments: $125,000 a year for the next three years.
This project will be fully funded through fundraisers, with ASUP being the first to donate.
“It’s always been in the back of the ASUP president’s mind to use this quasi endowment for a student center,” ASUP President, Emma Fuller said. “But we’ve never had a strategic plan that had it in there — and we’ve never had a president that actually wanted to pursue it.”
According to Fuller, the University will need to fundraise approximately $50 million for this project. Once all funds are obtained, President Robert Kelly anticipates the building process to take 18 months and finish in 2026.
UP’s quasi endowment fund — which is managed by sister school, the University of Notre Dame (UND) — is composed of all the unspent club funds from the end of each semester and has roughly $880,000 right now.
“Each year we deposit around $80,000 into the fund,” ASUP Director of Finance, Graham Finch said. “So that’s like $40,000 from each semester. If you look at the breakdown, it works out to being around 10% of the overall ASUP budget being deposited in.”
UND then invests the quasi-endowment into a variety of things including, stocks, fixed income, bonds and both in and directly into companies. The average return on the endowment has been over 10% per year.
Aside from big capital projects — such as the Beauchamp Recreation and Wellness Center — ASUP also pulls 3% of the interest incurred from the endowment for the spring budget to compensate for the students studying abroad or transferring out.
There is currently $880,000 in the fund, $375,000 being the interest incurred. For funds to be pulled out, there are several rules. A senate vote is required when pulling out money less than or equal to the interest incurred. A student body vote is required for anything more than that.
It is significant that ASUP was the first to donate as it shows potential donors that this is a student need versus an administrative want.
“It’s a bold statement to potential donors that the students feel confident that this is a good decision by the University, that this strategic plan should be completed and that they’re willing to put their own resources behind,” Director of Student Activities, Jeromy Koffler said.
Kelly wants to cultivate a strong sense of community within the building and plans for it to house the organizations currently placed in St. Mary’s, meeting spaces for other clubs and organizations, the admissions office and many more.
The University has chosen the architect for this project to be OPSIS — the same architect for the Shiley-Marcos Center. There are tentative plans for the firm to attend campus events and hold focus group meetings this month to gain input from students about the design and placement of the building.
“I want it to be a building that gives people those goosebump moments …,” Kelly said. “This really should be like home, a nice blanket, a great sweater. Where memories are made for the students, staff and faculty and for the life of the University … I want it to be a place where everyone comes together.”
Janea Melido is Copy Editor for Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.