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Scholarships that support the University’s commitment to student success and result in improved retention and graduation rates. A helping hand for underrepresented minority students. An innovative green energy initiative at the New Science Building. An endowed professorship in music. Improved athletic facilities.

Those are just a few of the outcomes of another record year for private support at Eastern Kentucky University. EKU recently concluded Fiscal Year 2017 with $9.2 million in gifts and commitments, its second consecutive year with an all-time high. Included in that total are record annual amounts for scholarships, WEKU radio and Colonel athletics.

“Philanthropy is having a profound impact on our students and faculty,” said Nick Perlick, vice president for development and alumni relations. “Gifts have been directed to   countless institutional needs.”           

Perlick is especially pleased with the increase in support for student scholarships.

“This came through a combination of increased annual scholarships, as well as strong endowment returns in recent years,” he said. “Taken together, we provided a record amount in private scholarship support. This plays a meaningful role in enabling EKU students to persist to graduation at record rates.”

In fact, the largest single commitment this past year was $1.25 million from an anonymous donor for scholarships in science and mathematics. In all, the EKU Foundation funded 1,151 scholarships in FY 17, with just over $1 million disbursed to deserving students.

Also noteworthy this year is the significant increase in annual gift support.  Annual gifts typically range between $25 and $1,000 and play a critical role in providing sustained support for key needs within each respective college. These funds improve technology in the classroom, fund undergraduate research projects, support student travel to conferences, and more. Alumni gifts directed to the greatest needs of the academic colleges experienced a 400 percent growth over the previous year. 

“Our need for private support has never been greater, and once again our alumni and friends have responded with great generosity,” EKU President Michael Benson said. “It is largely because of their support that we can confidently move forward with exciting plans to transform the living and learning experience for current and future Colonels. On behalf of our students and our campus community, we extend our heartfelt thanks to all those who have given so selflessly of their own blessings in life to support our University.”

Perlick cited the leadership of the EKU Foundation Board as another key to the University’s recent success. “The board has been extremely active in partnering with our office and the university,” he noted.

The board is currently chaired by Richmond native and EKU alum Maribeth McBride Berman.

“It is an honor for those of us who love Eastern to be involved with the university and to give back financially,” Berman said. “We have a significant number of new trustees on the board who are embracing their philanthropic role and helping to advance our mission. We hope that over time we can do even more for the benefit of EKU.”

Donors wishing to support Eastern can choose from among a variety of methods, including on-line giving, planned giving, securities, tangible personal property or, of course, cash, check or credit card. For more information, visit