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Endowment for scholarships: a direct investment in students

August 24, 2010

Endowment for scholarships: a direct investment in students

Agnes Berge Smith graduated from Pacific Lutheran College in 1932 with a vision. During the spring of that year, she traveled with the Choir of the West to sing at the Chicago World’s Fair. The trip was the premier occasion of what she called many “liberating experiences” that she had while studying music here.

Smith never forgot the powerful influence that the PLC experience had for her and she was determined to ensure that future music students’ lives were touched in a similar way.

In 2000, the estate of Agnes Berge Smith left $2.5 million to fund 16 music scholarships at PLU. These merit-based awards now enable the university to attract the most talented students to its music program.

And in recognition of the importance to Smith of the Chicago choir tour, a portion of her gift supports music group travel. Now, with her help, students in the four major performing ensembles have the opportunity to travel and perform abroad at least once during their four years at PLU.

“Enhancing the endowment for the financial support of students is critical to ensuring access to college for all, regardless of their economic standing,” said Karl Stumo, vice president for admission and enrollment services.

“It also enables the university to attract a diverse group of highly-qualified students, and enrich their educational experiences.”

The Agnes Berge Smith Music Scholarship is a good example.

“It’s one of the most prestigious music scholarships offered, and is the largest financially,” Stumo said. “To be recognized as what students call an ‘ABS Scholar’ brings them both prestige among their peers and much needed financial support.”

Endowed scholarships also give donors a way to feel that they are making a direct investment in students who are highly talented academically, who are in financial need or who have special talents in music, business, education, community service, campus leadership and other areas.

According to Stumo, an endowed scholarship gift is not only an investment in one student, it also frees up institutional resources to be used to support other students.

“In effect the donor gives a double gift,” he said. “And for the donor it’s not just a general contribution to the financial pool. They get to know and have a direct connection with the students they are supporting and helping to succeed.”

The total university endowed scholarship fund stands at $42 million. Income from the endowment provides more than $2 million annually in scholarship support for students. Endowment scholarships and grants mirror the university’s commitment to student access, the recognition of scholarly achievement,
and a commitment to global education.

New scholarship programs:

  • Global Scholar Grant Program
  • PLU Achiever Opportunity Grants
  • Global Study Opportunity Grants

Continuing scholarship programs:

  • Regents’ Scholarships
  • President’s Scholarships
  • Academic Merit Scholarships

There are many ways to make an investment in the PLU endowment. Contributions can be made outright or through planned giving vehicles, such as a bequest provision, trust, gift annuity or gift of life insurance. To learn more about investment options and ensuring the legacy of PLU, please contact the Office of Advancement at 253-535-7177, or visit and click on “Make a Gift.”