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Whatever it Takes



Even before the Great Recession and the resulting economic slowdown brought college and university finances to precarious levels, institution leaders have been creative in leveraging campus assets to help save their campus money or boost its endowment.

Air Power

At Union College in Schenectady, New York, three turbines installed at campus soccer fields supply about 40 percent of the power used at the athletic complex, saving the college several thousand dollars per year in electricity costs. The college is also monetarily and environmentally benefiting from a type of rubberized concrete that student researchers developed using recycled tires. The porous surface has multiple benefits, such as allowing underground aquifers to regenerate, reducing the heat-island effect of traditionally paved surfaces, and eliminating the need for additional drainage systems.

A Renewable Resource

The Endow an Oak Program at Louisiana State University, launched in 1993, helps cover the costs of maintaining the university’s more than 1,200 oak trees. The trees are a notable campus fixture, and endowment levels range from $4,000 per tree up to $50,000 for an older oak in the campus quad. Half of the revenues go to an endowment fund. The remaining funds are used for the upkeep of campus landscaping, and for planting new oak trees for future generations to enjoy.

For Lease

The University of Alaska System has campus assets substantial enough to require a separate Land Management Office, which is charged with handling development of the university’s property resources; arranging leases for harvesting oil, gas, and timber; and issuing permits for hunting or other land uses. The system also recently partnered with Alaska Airlines in a $6.3 million agreement that provides scholarships for student-athletes and mitigates the teams’ substantial travel costs. The university’s new sports complex in Anchorage will be named the Alaska Airlines Center.

A Lasting Commitment

Mount St. Mary’s University, in Emmitsburg, Maryland, has sold campus burial plots to alumni for more than a century. The original cemetery filled by the 1960s; in 1994 and in 1999, additional land was designated. Two university columbariums for cremated remains still have spaces available, ranging in cost from $1,800 to $4,500. Other colleges offer similar options for the interment of alumni or faculty and staff, such as St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy (WI), the University of Richmond (VA), the University of Virginia, Colgate University (NY), and Georgetown University (DC).

What Lies Beneath

Several universities have weighed the pros and cons of generating revenue by allowing controversial hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, to extract oil and gas from their land. The University of Tennessee received state approval in March 2013, with aims to use the revenue for environmental research. Other university campuses that include shale reserves, such as those in Texas, West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, have either considered fracking on their land or have already received fees from drilling companies.



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