CORVALLIS - The Oregon State University Foundation set a new record for total gift commitments, recording more than $53.8 million in cash gifts and pledges during the recently completed fiscal year. The old record of $41.3 million was set during the previous year.

The record-setting performance came despite an uneven economy that did have an impact on how donors supported the university, according to Rebecca Cole, president and CEO of the OSU Foundation.

"The economy has affected how and when alumni and friends choose to complete their commitments," Cole explained, "but it hasn't changed the generous amount of support they are showing. As a result, our pledges are way up, while cash gifts are down slightly.

"The overall result is still a very positive picture for Oregon State University," she added. "More alumni, friends and organizations are supporting OSU than ever before."

Cash gifts totaled $28.5 million in FY2001, down slightly from the previous year's total of $30.1 million. Pledges, however, rose to $24.9 million from the previous year's total of $10.5 million.

Cole said there are a variety of reasons behind the foundation's record-setting year, including a reorganization of the fund-raising staff; a positive economy early in the year; new academic programs in engineering, education, forestry and science; and the football team's Fiesta Bowl victory. The bottom line, she said, is that donors perceive that OSU is "a dynamic institution that is clearly moving forward."

"Donors are well aware of Oregon State University's success in boosting enrollment, expanding engineering, starting the state's first branch campus, and other initiatives," Cole said. "They want to be a part of that energy and excitement."

More than 80 different OSU programs received designated funds during 2000-01. The top recipients of dollars designated by donors included: athletics and the Beaver Athletic Scholarship Fund, $8 million; the College of Engineering, $4 million; OSU libraries, $2 million; various scholarships, $1.5 million; the College of Agricultural Sciences and the E.R. Jackman Foundation, $1.4 million; the College of Science, $1.3 million; the College of Forestry, $1.2 million; and the Linus Pauling Institute, $850,000.

The increase in pledges also will benefit programs university-wide, though perhaps the greatest impact will be on engineering. The College of Engineering "Technology Initiative" is seeking to raise $132 million in private donor support during the next five years as part of an overall goal of $180 million.

"The Technology Initiative project is gaining momentum, with more than $72 million in proposal requests currently pending with prospective donors," said Paul Prokop, OSU Foundation vice president and director of university development.

The OSU Foundation also set a record in its Annual Giving Programs, which are smaller annual gifts that are renewable. The new record of $2.35 million came from 32,001 gifts. The total more than doubles the program's efforts of just two years ago and reflects an average gift of $73 compared to the previous year's $60.

More information on the OSU Foundation activities and programs is available by calling 541-737-4218, or accessing the foundation web site.