Market values of endowed funds for PR education now total about $15 million but “donors are few” and “most gifts are modest in amount and non-strategic in purpose,” says a report by the Commission on PR Education of PR Society of America.

kathleen kelly
Kathleen Kelly, Ph.D., of the department of PR, College of Journalism, University of Florida, who authored the report, also said that “Education programs spend little time or effort on cultivating donors and soliciting gifts.”

She notes that the gift-giving for PR education is miniscule compared to gift-giving in general to colleges and universities.

Contributions to higher education totaled $27.8 billion in 2008-09, which was an 11.9% drop from the previous year. The Chronicle of Philanthropy lists 34 gifts so far this year ranging from $20 million to $200 million.

Kelly notes that Ed and Becky Meek gave $5.3 million to the University of Mississippi in 2003 to create the Edwin and Becky Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

She also notes that Irwin and Joan Jacobs in 2003 pledged $110 million to the School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego.

Major PR Givers Listed

A $28 million gift to Marquette University in 2005 created the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication. William Diederich had majored in journalism at Marquette and became an executive at Landmark Communications.

The Arthur Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication at Penn State has an endowment of $3 million, mostly from foundations.

Lead gift was made by Larry Foster, 1948 journalism alumnus who was corporate VP-PR, Johnson & Johnson.

Foster and his wife, Ellen, have given “millions” to Penn State and its College of Communications including $500,000 to enhance the college’s home building, said Kelly.

Among gifts listed by Kelly is $2 million to the Dept. of PR, College of Journalism and Communications, UFL, from a foundation established by Frank Karel, journalism alumnus and former communications VP, Robert Wood Johnson and Rockefeller Foundations.

Made in 2008, the $2M is to be matched by the Florida’s Trust Fund for Major Gifts.

The Harold Burson chair in PR at the Dept. of Mass Communication, Advertising and PR, College of Communication, Boston University, has a current value of $1.3 million. It is named after the founder of Burson-Marsteller.

School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon, has an endowed chair in PR with investments valued at $2.1M. Donor is anonymous.

Ellis N. Brandt Chair in PR, Michigan State University, has an endowment of $2.2M. Brandt was 1943 journalism graduate and former Dow Chemical PR VP.

Scott Widmeyer, chairman and CEO of Widmeyer Communications, Washington, D.C., led the effort to endow the Widmeyer Professorship in PR at West Virginia University in 2008 with contributions totaling $380,000, Kelly reports.

Other contributors, who are listed in the 22-page report which is on the Commission’s website include Jenny Neil Duffey and her husband Lee, former head of Duffey PR in Atlanta, who gave $50,000 to underwrite the Duffey PR Writing Laboratory at the University of Georgia, and 2004 PR Society president Del Galloway, whose endowment to the College of Journalism and Communication at UFL is now worth $24,600.