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Source: Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University – Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University –

On April 3, 2024, the Endowment Fund of Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University turns 12 years old. We can say that the organization is very “young”. But it turns out that in the pre-revolutionary history of the Polytechnic University there was a prototype of an endowment or, in other words, endowment capital. The point of the fund is that it is never spent, but rather invested in liquid financial instruments. The income is annually allocated to scientific, educational and social projects.

Witte Scholarships

The first endowment capital of the Polytechnic Institute is associated with the name of Sergei Yulievich Witte, an outstanding Russian statesman, one of the founders of the Polytechnic Institute. This is described in detail in the book by V. A. Smelov “Pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg Polytechnic”. In 1902, in connection with the decade of ministerial activity of S. Yu. Witte, senior officials of the Ministry of Finance collected 11,500 rubles. A year later, using interest from this amount, they established four personal scholarships at the Polytechnic Institute. Witte was given the right to choose scholarship recipients. Money for the establishment of three more scholarships – 36,577 rubles – was donated by the St. Petersburg exchange society. The scholarship recipients were determined by the exchange committee.

On February 21, 1903, a student mutual aid fund appeared at the Polytechnic University, whose activities were similar to social entrepreneurship. The charter stated that its purpose was to support needy students. The cash register was replenished from membership fees, donations and voluntary contributions, as well as income from the work of specially created enterprises. At the cash desk there was a chemical glassware shop, a night buffet in the student dormitory, a bathhouse, a bookstore, and a publishing house where students could get a job. These “small enterprises” brought in a lot of revenue: in 1913 they earned 157,903 rubles. The profit amounted to 25,417 rubles.

First endowments

In the Middle Ages there were striking examples of philanthropy in the field of education, which anticipated the emergence of endowments in their modern form. For example, in 1502, the grandmother of the future King of England Henry VIII, Lady Margaret Beaufort, donated funds for the creation of chairs of theology at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Fifty years later, her grandson created charitable foundations at these universities for secular sciences: civil law, physics, Hebrew and Greek.

In 1663, Cambridge graduate, priest and member of the British Parliament Henry Lucas bequeathed 4,000 books and land to the University of Cambridge, which provided an income of one hundred pounds a year to finance the position of professor of mathematics he established. Over the years, it has been occupied by outstanding scientists, including Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking.

Sponsor name for centuries

In 1701, an Encyclopedic School opened in New England, in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. Over time, it has become one of the most famous universities in the world. English merchant, East India Company member, and former governor of Madras, Elihu Yale, donated 417 books, a portrait of King George I, and proceeds from the sale of goods worth about £800. In 1718, the university received the name of this merchant. Thus Elihu Yale laid the foundation for the Yale University Endowment.

Other philanthropists followed Yale’s example. Today, the funds of many generations of donors work on the world stock market, generating income that is used to develop Yale University.

Large endowments have also been established at Harvard, Princeton and Stanford universities. Their volume reaches tens of billions of dollars. For example, Harvard’s endowment in 2023 was $50.75 billion.

In 1900, the famous international endowment was created – the Nobel Foundation. According to the will of the Swedish scientist, engineer and philanthropist Alfred Nobel, securities were purchased with the proceeds from the sale of most of his property. From the income from them, a prize was established for contributions to science and literature, as well as for activities to strengthen peace.

Patrons in Russia

In modern Russia, endowment funds officially appeared in 2007, when the law on endowment capital was adopted. But their analogues existed before, because in the Russian Empire charity was well developed.

In 2020, the National Association of Endowments of the Russian Federation established an annual competition of historical works “Eternal Deposit”, dedicated to the creation and functioning of endowments in Russia. Participants in the event said that the practice of using “eternal” capital was actively used back in the 19th century; patronage of the arts was prestigious among nobles and entrepreneurs. All social life – science and art, education and medicine in pre-revolutionary Russia – turned out to be connected with endowment capital. Many schools, hospitals, orphanages, research awards or student scholarships have started and developed thanks to people making donations or bequests in the form of endowments.

Polytech Endowment

Today in Russia more than half of endowment funds are associated with higher education. In 2012, six years after the law on endowment capital was issued, the tradition of using endowment was revived at Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University.

The fund was created on the basis of the historical experience of the world’s largest universities. Over the years of its existence, hundreds of benefactors have contributed to the endowment, contributing to the development of our university, expanding its capabilities, and implementing ideas and initiatives. This is not only a source of funds, but also a living memory of different generations of partners and friends of our university,” said SPbPU Rector Andrei Rudskoy.

Today the fund has 94.9 million rubles, and income from the management of these funds is annually transferred to student initiatives, projects and special scholarships.

By the standards of all of Russia, this is not much, but we set ambitious goals and work to achieve them. As of December 2023, the fund was included in the 20 largest university endowments in Russia,” noted Elena Vinogradova, chairman of the fund’s board, director of the SPbPU Department of Economics and Finance.

Over 12 years, more than 9 million rubles have been spent on university development projects. 40 percent of this went to financial support for students and staff, 38 percent to student research and 18 percent to infrastructure projects.

The Polytech Endowment Fund consists of four established endowments and five emerging ones. SPbPU strives to ensure that each institute has its own endowment capital in the university-wide fund. And then philanthropists – and often these are Polytechnic graduates – can make donations to the institute from which they graduated.

The income of the fund is important for the success and sustainable development of the university in its educational and scientific mission. That is why the connection between the alma mater and alumni, their long-term interaction and good relations is so important.

Over the years of the foundation’s existence, more than 650 donors have made donations. These are large companies and banks, including Sberbank, Bank St. Petersburg, VTB Bank, Gazprom Neft and others, as well as individuals. As a rule, these are alumni, teachers, employees, students, or simply people close to the university. The SPbPU Endowment Fund is grateful to every donor, and the contribution of every person, bank or company is immortalized in the history of the Polytechnic University.

Currently, the fund’s target capital is transferred to trust management by three different management companies, which operate on the basis of different investment strategies. Asset diversification is the fund’s fundamental goal, aimed at minimizing financial risks and maximizing income from management, explained Elena Vinogradova.

Now the total volume of target capital in Russia has reached 140 billion rubles. This is a young, constantly growing and promising market in which Polytechnic actively participates. It’s easy to make your contribution to increasing the university’s endowment capital – you just need to go towebsite and donate any amount. Sometimes the contribution of even one person opens up new opportunities for teachers, students and scientists.

I thank everyone who considered it important to contribute to the future of the largest technical university in Russia. And I invite everyone to support the glorious tradition of the best universities in the world by taking part in the development of the Polytechnic endowment and the implementation of new projects,” said SPbPU Rector Andrey Rudskoy.

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Please note; This information is raw content directly from the information source. It is accurate to what the source is stating and does not reflect the position of MIL-OSI or its clients.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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