The University of Texas Foundation acts as go-between for donors and UT System

Andrew Messamore

While other external foundations at the University raise money for individual academic units, The University of Texas Foundation supports internal fundraising efforts and provides a go-between for donors and the 15 UT-System institutions.

Established by the UT System Board of Regents in 1967, the foundation manages gifts to System institutions and provides discretionary funds for use by the System chancellor’s office. From 2009 to 2011, the foundation gave more than $27 million to System institutions for scholarships and educational programs. According to the most recent IRS records available, the foundation was valued at roughly $17.6 million in net assets in the 2011 fiscal year, including an additional $24.3 million in liabilities.

Because of the System’s legal status as a public institution, it cannot directly accept annuities, real estate and some other forms of property. The foundation’s status as a 501(c)(3) organization allows it to take gifts from donors and transfer them to the University, said Paul Youngdale Jr., executive director for thefoundation.

“We’re a helper to campuses in the UT System and process gifts from donors that the System as a state institution cannot handle,” Youngdale said. “It’s easier and more efficient.”

He said the foundation occasionally accepts odd gifts, including motor homes, and the foundation usually sells or auctions these gifts and gives the proceeds to a program or institution chosen by the donor.

The foundation is chaired by 20 voting members and four nonvoting members, including employees of the UT System, board members of the UT-Austin Law School Foundation and several other high-profile donors.

One of the foundation’s donations in 2011 was $333,853 for “Chancellor’s Business Expenses,” according to its audit report. Randa Safady, the System’s vice chancellor for external relations and a nonvoting member of the foundation’s board, said the funds are used for an account supporting System fundraisers and other general System purposes.

The account was also used to pay for consultants and experts to help plan the new UT Medical School, Safady said.

According to a 2002 article by the Austin American-Statesman, the foundation provided funding for the Chancellor’s Council, a collection of endowments held by the System that support the salary of the UT System chancellor, through 1998. System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said the foundation has not supported the chancellor’s salary for “as long as institutional knowledge is available.”

Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s compensation by appropriated public funds is today capped at $70,231 by the Texas Legislature. The rest of Cigarroa’s compensation, which stands at $873,570, comes from endowments provided to the System.