OU Foundation celebrates milestone with $2 billion in total assets

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Guy Patton

Guy Patton

The University of Oklahoma Foundation will mark its 75th anniversary Dec. 1. And just in time for that celebration, the Foundation has achieved another milestone by crossing a threshold of $2 billion in total assets.

Using data from the Foundation’s audited financial statement, total assets were $507 million in 2000 and have increased more than 394 percent in the past two decades, said Guy Patton, president and CEO of the OU Foundation.

“The Foundation never loses sight of the fact that the engine for asset growth – and the growth of the university – has been and will always be the generous, consistent support of OU’s alumni and friends, and it is through this generosity that OU has been able to expand its margin of excellence,” he said.

“In particular, the last 10 years have been a tremendous period of growth. This has allowed the Foundation to distribute more than $375 million from the endowment since 2009 to benefit the University of Oklahoma through donor-directed giving to scholarships, faculty salaries and program support.”

The Foundation’s endowment grows through private gifts and investment gains. For example, from 2009 to 2019, private gifts, oil and gas revenue and other income have added more than $451 million to the endowment. The Foundation’s investment team has recorded endowment gains in excess of $562 million during the same period.

Trent Wells, OU Foundation vice president and treasurer, said that major efforts like OU’s Campaign for Scholarships and the endowed chair and professorships campaign – which was matched until 2008 by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education – added $593 million to the Foundation’s assets since 2000. Private assets held for entities associated with OU also have made a major impact.

Wells said another important aspect of the OU Foundation’s success has been the work of its investment team.

“During the past decade, investments made through the endowment pool have returned 9.8 percent and outperformed both short- and medium-term benchmarks,” he said, adding that the Foundation also has ranked in the top 10 percent among its peers throughout that period.

“The leadership of the OU Foundation believes full-time, professional stewardship of the Foundation’s assets is mission-critical,” said Bradley Johnson, vice president and chief investment officer for the OU Foundation. “We have focused our efforts on developing a culture of institutional investment management that is worthy of our donors and their trust.”

The OU Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that encourages and supports charitable giving for the benefit of the University of Oklahoma. The Foundation acts as the principal organization through which charitable gifts are made and administered for OU. The sole reason for its existence is to serve the university and its generous donors.

Since the Foundation’s first $160 gift from the three original trustors in 1944, the Foundation’s goals have been to obtain for the university the maximum benefit of donors’ gifts, to protect the privacy and interest of donors, and to ensure that the intention of each gift is scrupulously observed.

First incorporated in 1955 as a public charity, the OU Foundation is able to facilitate gift transactions, enable the acquisition and development of real property, and pursue investment opportunities that might prove difficult or impractical for the state institution it serves.

In addition, the OU Foundation works closely with OU administrators and faculty – particularly the Office of the President, OU Advancement and the OU Alumni Association – to support the mission of the university.