Jenny K. and Michael G. Messner, CE 1976, have launched a challenge grant to support the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). Through their family foundation, the Messners have established a challenge fund within the Georgia Tech Foundation; this fund will provide dollar-for-dollar matching gifts up to $5 million.
The Messner Faculty Endowment Challenge will fund endowed faculty chairs and professorships within the School. To date, only six endowed faculty chairs and professorships are available to the School’s 48 tenured and tenure-track faculty — only 12.5 percent of the faculty have access to the career-building, program-enhancing benefits that come with endowed chairs/professorships. In comparison, 25 to 50 percent of faculty in the nation’s other top-five CEE programs — Georgia Tech’s competition for top-tier faculty — hold endowed chairs or professorships.
“The overarching goal is to provide up to $10 million in additional permanent endowment for support of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering,” said Michael Messner. When the challenge has been fully met, funds will be used to establish up to 10 new chairs and professorships — more than doubling the current six. This infusion of support “will enable the School to be even more successful in retaining and recruiting exceptional faculty at mid- and senior-career levels,” said Messner.
Donors who wish to participate in the challenge must make a qualifying gift or multi-year commitment, generally payable over a five-year period. Gifts will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Messner Challenge Fund and deposited into each participating donor’s named endowment fund, held and managed by the Georgia Tech Foundation.
Only new gifts and commitments made on or after October 10, 2018, and designated for endowed faculty chairs and professorships within the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering will qualify for the Messner Faculty Endowment Challenge. The challenge will run from October 10, 2018, through June 30, 2019 — or until the challenge funds are fully subscribed, if earlier. Participating donors will hold commemorative naming rights for chairs and professorships.
Messner CEE Challenge 1.0 Q&A
Q. What are the specific goals for the challenge?
A. The overall goal of the challenges is to provide up to $10 million in additional permanent endowment dedicated for support of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in very short order, to enable the School to act quickly and decisively in attracting and retaining faculty at mid- and senior-career levels. In so doing, the goal is to establish new chairs and professorships – more than doubling the current six.
The School’s primary objectives are to raise a combination of up to ten (10) additional faculty chairs and professorships through Challenge 1.0.
Q. How does the challenge work?
A. Donors who wish to help meet the challenge must make a qualifying gift or multi-year commitment, payable generally over a five-year period. Gifts from all challenge grant participants will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis by the Challenge Fund and deposited into each participating donor’s named endowment fund, held and managed by the Georgia Tech Foundation. Under certain circumstances, advance funding may be available through the Georgia Tech Foundation, enabling the School to initiate the search process years earlier than would typically be the case.
Q. What do you mean by qualifying gifts and commitments? When does the first challenge start? End?
A. Only new gifts and commitments, made on or after October 10, 2018, and designated for endowed faculty chairs and professorships within the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering will qualify for the Messner Faculty Endowment Challenge. Previous donors cannot cancel and re-book current commitments. This first challenge will run from October 10, 2018, through June 30, 2019— a little more than eight months — or until such time as the challenge funds are fully subscribed, if earlier. The terms of any subsequent challenge(s) will be determined and announced thereafter.
Q. Who gets the recognition?
A. The Messners are conveying all commemorative naming rights — including the challenge grant monies — to the participating donor(s), who may name their respective endowments in their own name(s) or in honor or memory of others. However, the challenge funds do not accrue to the participating donor’s personal giving for donor recognition purposes (e.g., The Hill Society).
Q. Can donors make additional gifts and commitments to existing faculty endowment funds to take advantage of the matching funds?
A. Under certain circumstances, yes. Please inquire.
Q. What is the minimum level of Messner Faculty Endowment Challenge participation?
A. The minimum level of challenge participation for establishing new endowments is $500,000 (to fund a $1,000,000 professorship, when fully funded by the participating donor and challenge match) to be paid in full within five (5) years of the date of commitment and no later than June 30, 2024.
Q. Do my corporate matching gifts qualify as well?
A. Yes. Nearly 1,000 corporations match the gifts of their employees and, in some cases, retirees. The entire amount of the donor’s commitment, including matching gifts, qualifies for the challenge and may be credited to meet the requisite level required for challenge participation.
Q. What if I choose to participate through my family foundation and donor-advised funds?
A. Gifts and commitments from family foundations, donor-advised funds and other organizations, and directly from corporations, are also welcome.
Q. Will an estate provision or trust qualify?
A. Typically not. Only in a handful of cases may a trust qualify. Unrealized bequests do not.
Q. Where do I direct any questions? Or make a qualifying commitment?
A. Contact any development officer, or Director of Development for the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Ashley Coogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404.385.1604.