MSU Foundation marks 50 years of progress

On Sunday, Feb. 5, the Mississippi State University Foundation marked a half-century of fundraising for the land-grant institution.

Since its 1962 incorporation, the organization has raised more than $1 billion.

The then-MSU Development Foundation was chartered during the presidency of the late Dean W. Colvard (1960-66). The university's 12th chief executive, he led in creating an organization that would play a critical role in achieving a level of excellence beyond what state support could achieve.

A key group of alumni shared his vision, contributing $120,000 to fund the foundation during its first three years of operation.

While the early years were dedicated to attracting support from private sources, the foundation evolved over the decades to its current mission to continually build relationships among the institution, its donors and prospective donors.

At present, more than 22,000 alumni, friends, parents, companies, foundations, and organizations contribute annually.

"The foundation ushered in a level of progress for Mississippi State that has allowed the university to grow and meet the needs of the state as an educational leader over time," said John P. Rush, MSU vice president for development and alumni.

"We now are commemorating the level of success our organization has brought the institution, and we salute the loyal contributors who continue to pave the way for MSU to extend its reach across the nation," added Rush, who also who serves as foundation CEO.

Since the 1960s, the MSU Foundation has played a major role in the growth and evolution of campus, Rush said. In addition to raising funds for new facilities and the renovation of others, it has provided a steady stream of annual support that made possible scholarships and fellowships, endowed faculty positions, such as chairs and professorships, and overall university improvements, he observed.

In 2002, the organization moved its operations into the newly constructed Hunter Henry Center. Located on the western edge of campus, the facility was built with gifts earmarked for the project.

In addition to the foundation, the building--named for a major university benefactor and late Canton native--also houses offices of the MSU Alumni Association and the vice president for the Division of Development and Alumni.

"This is a significant milestone, and it is fitting to salute Dr. Colvard for his vision in creating the Foundation, the dedicated staff over the years who have served there, and most especially, countless numbers of alumni and friends whose generous support has been critical in advancing the mission of our beloved university," said President Mark E. Keenum, an alumnus who became MSU's 19th chief executive in 2009.

Current fundraising efforts continue to center around an international effort titled "StatePride: An Initiative for Student and Faculty Support." To date, approximately $75 million has been raised toward a $100 million goal.

The multi-year initiative has focused on securing gifts for student scholarships, and endowed faculty chairs and professorships.

The MSU Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c) (3) organization that receives, invests and administers private support consistent with institutional priorities and mission. Under the guidance of a 45-member board of directors and the vice president for development and alumni, the Foundation administers most of the university's fundraising activities and endowment funds that now stand in excess of $347 million.

For more information, visit or follow on Twitter @MSU_Foundation.

Harriet Laird | University Relations

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