The Stunning Wealth of UVa’s Nonprofits

by James C. Sherlock

As an alumnus of the University of Virginia, I like to check in occasionally to see how my alma mater is doing financially.

Not the actual University, but the wealthy and proliferating nonprofits set up for its off-the-books support. When I say wealthy, I mean $13,568,527,649 wealthy.

OK, rich.

All of them tax exempt.

Organization Assets
University of Virginia Investment Management Company $10,038,884,501
University of Virginia Law School Foundation $566,331,429
Jefferson Scholars Foundation $547,483,075
University of Virginia Darden School Foundation $510,801,836
University of Virginia Foundation $458,537,727
University of Virginia Physicians Group $419,469,334
University of Virginia Alumni Association $410,349,748
Virginia Student Aid Foundation $142,842,468
University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce Foundation $112,159,375
University of Virginia Medical School Foundation $88,759,422
The University of Virginia Health Foundation $79,509,464
Alumni Board of the University of Virginia Endowment Fund $77,627,122
University of Virginia Engineering Foundation Inc $55,662,717
University of Virginia Curry School of Education Foundation, Inc. $30,336,679
University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group $16,395,232
University of Virginia School of Architecture Foundation $11,973,126
Colonnade Club of the University of Virginia $1,404,394
Total $13,568,527,649

I will share some of my favorite stories from their Forms 990.

Jefferson Scholars Foundation. The Jefferson Scholars program at UVa has been a fine one for a very long time. In truth, though, I was stunned at the nearly $550 million in assets the program has accumulated.  I honestly don’t know how they can spend it all wisely given the narrow mission of the Foundation.

Jefferson Scholars Foundation

Mission: Academic merit-based scholarship, fellowship and professorship support to students and faculty at UVA.

In 2018, revenue less expenses was over $85,000,000.  That was profit. After paying nine six-figure executives.

James Wright, president secretary and treasurer had total compensation of over $762,000.

In a show of nonprofit solidarity, the Jefferson Scholars program paid UVA Investment Management Company $750,000 in 2019 to handle its invested assets.

The Foundation in 2019 made $11,480,000 in grants to domestic individuals, $592,000 to foreign individuals. Total functional expenses were $20,517,000.

After that $85 million profit the previous year…

“THE FOUNDATION AWARDS ACADEMIC MERIT­BASED SCHOLARSHIPS TO BETWEEN 30 AND 36 INCOMING UNDERGRADUATES EACH YEAR. THESE SCHOLARSHIPS COVER THE FULL ESTIMATED COST OF ATTENDING UVA FOR FOUR YEARS.

THE FOUNDATION ALSO AWARDS BETWEEN 15 TO 20 ACADEMIC MERIT­-BASED FULL COST GRADUATE FELLOWSHIPS TO INCOMING PHD AND MBA CANDIDATES ANNUALLY. ADDITIONALLY, THE FOUNDATION AWARDS APPROXIMATELY SEVEN ACADEMIC MERIT­-BASED GRADUATE FELLOWSHIPS TO NATIONAL FELLOWS. SCHOLARSHIP AND FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENTS WITH FOREIGN VISAS ARE REPORTED ON SCHEDULE F.

LASTLY, THE FOUNDATION FUNDED, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, THE SALARIES, BENEFITS, AND OTHER RELATED COSTS OF THREE UVA PROFESSORS.

THE FOUNDATION ALSO AWARDS A VARIETY OF FACULTY PRIZES ANNUALLY TO DISTINGUISHED FACULTY MEMBERS. THESE AWARDS ARE BASED ON FACULTY EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING AND SCHOLARSHIP.”

Somehow they get all of that done with only $547 million in assets.

I must relate a sad story in Jefferson Scholars Foundation 2020 Form 990.  A plea for understanding and forbearance:

ON JUNE 3, 2019, THE FOUNDATION RECEIVED A $100 MILLION PLEDGE RECEIVABLE. THIS PLEDGE IS EXPECTED TO BE PAID IN CASH OVER A PERIOD OF 10­-15 YEARS. THE FOUNDATION DEEMS THIS PLEDGE TO BE AN UNUSUAL GRANT BASED ON THE FOLLOWING FOUR FACTORS: ­ THE PLEDGE IS A SUBSTANTIAL CONTRIBUTION FROM A DISINTERESTED PARTY. ­ THE DONOR WAS ATTRACTED TO THE FOUNDATION BY REASON OF ITS PUBLICLY­ SUPPORTED MISSION TO PROVIDE MERIT-­BASED SCHOLARSHIP, FELLOWSHIP AND PROFESSORSHIP SUPPORT TO STUDENTS AND FACULTY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA (UVA). ­ THE PLEDGE IS EXTREMELY UNUSUAL WITH RESPECT TO AMOUNT. ­ BY REASON OF ITS AMOUNT, THE PLEDGE THREATENS THE FOUNDATION’S FUTURE ABILITY TO MEET THE PUBLIC SUPPORT TEST IN SCHEDULE A, PART II.

That does sound pretty threatening.

Colonnade Club of the University of Virginia. This faculty club spent $317,771 for:

FACULTY/MEMBER SOCIALS ­ EVENTS INCLUDING INTELLECTUAL PROGRAMS WITH LECTURES FROM PROMINENT SCHOLARS, HISTORIANS, AND ARTISTS. OPENINGS RECEPTION TO START ACADEMIC YEAR, FOOTBALL GAME TAILGATE, OKTOBERFEST, PUMPKIN CARVING WITH LAWN RESIDENTS, LEGACY BRUNCH, WREATH MAKING, FORMAL ANNUAL MEETING, CHILDRENS HOLIDAY PARTY, FOXFIELD RACES, TIM OKANE, C&O, GLASS PALETTE, JUNCTION, ST PATRICKS DAY, MUSE PAINT BAR, PROF LOUIS NELSON, RICHARD GUY WILSON, HEIRLOOM, ELIZABETH CHEW, BICENTENNIAL LECTURE, CLOSINGS RECEPTION TO MARK THE END OF THE YEAR.

No word on how much of that was spent on the intellectual programs. But they also spent $32,313 on:

REFRESHMENTS AND PERIODICALS ARE OFFERED TO THE MEMBERS IN THE CLUB TO FACILITATE SOCIAL AND INTELLECTUAL EXCHANGE AMONG MEMBERS

However, intellectual exchange has its limits. Be assured that wokeness rules.

From the bylaws:

A member whose behavior transgresses the Club’s bylaws and regulations and/or endangers the welfare, decorum, or character of the Club, and/or creates an environment that is inconsistent with precepts of inclusion and diversity embraced by the Club is subject to action by the Board of Governors.

I suspect that reading the Wall Street Journal in the club may qualify as creating the banned environment.

But at least those tailgates, Oktoberfest, Foxfield Races et al and the refreshments and approved periodicals in the club amid “the historic charm and inviting tranquility of Pavilion VII, the cornerstone of which dates to 1817, and is identified as the University’s first building” are tax exempt.

So faculty shame over slave-built facilities also has its limits. It stops at cocktail hour.

Good to know.

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Frederick Howell
Frederick Howell
28 days ago

Very interesting, Please keep up the good work

Last edited 28 days ago by Frederick Howell
Wahoo74
Wahoo74
28 days ago

I’d also be curious to find out 2 things from the $547MM Jefferson Foundation managers:
1) Are we truly still giving scholarships based on “merit” and not merit laced with DEI criteria? These scholarships need to be 100% predicated on academic and leadership accomplishments, i.e., only the best and brightest regardless of ethnic background. I hope this is the case.
2) Why aren’t we giving out many more scholarships? The $20,517 in grants awarded roughly correlates to 4% of the endowment corpus. I understand the prudent investment theory behind this, but also would off that the grants could be upped to 6% or about $33MM which would offer another $12.5MM for a 50% increase in merit scholarships. Given the half a billion dollars plus in endowment size, this is not an undue risk.