Update on Wheaton’s Endowment Fund reveals no significant changes

An integral part of any college’s financial support is its endowment fund and Wheaton is no exception. The endowment fund at Wheaton impacts the financial aspect of nearly every operation on campus and is run primarily, if not exclusively, on donations. The main contributors to the endowment fund seem to be alumni who often set up specific funds that support scholarships, student or faculty research projects as well as internships. In addition to these individually established funds, some alumni donations are applied to help keep certain operations and functions running smoothly.

Brian Douglas, the Vice president of Finance and Administration, said, “Building projects such as the Mars Center for Science and Technology and the Diane C Nordin ’80 Athletic Field have endowed funds that support their on-going maintenance.”

Along with the alumni, there are certain donors, both historically and recently, who have made major contributions and who have been rewarded by having parts of the campus named after them, both in their honor and as a token of appreciation.

“Buildings and spaces within the buildings bear the names of many of our major donors to endowment,” said Douglas. “Of course, it goes without saying that early in our history, the Wheaton family was a very generous benefactor to the college as well, including to the endowment.”

While some of the recent funds have helped to simply maintain some of the facilities here at Wheaton, recent funds have also gone to help finance events on campus.

“The endowment [fund] provides support to scholarships, the arts, faculty-student collaboration [projects], facilities and other important activities,” Douglas said.

Douglas also noted that some of the recent funding has assisted students who would otherwise be financially incapable of attending Wheaton, which he feels is one of the most significant aspects of the fund. It may in fact be the one aspect that most directly affects individual students.

“The endowment supports all sorts of activities, but from my standpoint, the most valuable aspect is scholarships, which allow many students to attend Wheaton who might normally not be able to otherwise,” Douglas said.

While Douglas helps to manage most of the finances here at Wheaton, the endowment is such an important fund that specific staff members are assigned to make sure it is running smoothly and the money is being spent effectively. Those staff members include Ailish Welch, a certified public accountant and Assistant Controller of the Budget and Accounting Services. Welch is one of the primary monitors of the endowment fund.

Janet Birenbaum, Senior Accountant of Budget and Accounting Services, also holds significant responsibility in relation to the endowment. Working alongside Welch, Birenbaum helps to keep the fund balanced.

The fund has not experiencedseen any drastic changes into the way it is managed in recent history. When asked if there were any parts of the fund that may be poorly managed, or any operation which expensively depleted too much of the fund, Douglas replied, “nothing really comes to mind.”