On February 20, 1960, LSU Foundation Chairman Murphy J. Foster began the first meeting of the Board of Directors by stating, ''The possibilities are unlimited for what such a foundation could do." As a first step in charting such a course, in June, board member C. Arthur Provost visited the University of Chicago, Ohio State University and the University of Illinois on behalf of the Board to garner recommendations on how to best organize the LSU Foundation. As a result of his trip and subsequent recommendations, an elite "advisory board" was formed by the LSU Foundation, limited to not less than 50 and no more than 200 members.
Today, a team of more than 100 frontline development officers and development support staff work daily to foster private financial support for LSU. A 23-member Board of Directors is led by a chairperson; each chairperson serves a two-year term.
The LSU Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that encourages and receives restricted and unrestricted gifts. The LSU Foundation also manages most of the investments and serves as trustee for most of the endowed funds and other private assets contributed for the benefit of LSU.
On December 9, 1961, the Board elected Louie C. Reinberg as the first director of the LSU Foundation. Reinberg was appointed by LSU's Board of Supervisors and reported to the president of the LSU System and the LSU Foundation Board of Directors. In 1963, the first annual report of the LSU Foundation announced $66,132 in total assets and the LSU Foundation established a physical presence, maintaining offices on campus in Pleasant Hall. Reinberg retired February 10, 1978, by which time total assets had grown to $4,348,574 and the LSU Foundation was housed in the LSU System Building.
Reinberg was succeeded by Lloyd Moon Jr., who was hired as executive director of development of the LSU Foundation. When Moon left his position, in December 1985, the LSU Foundation had a staff of five employees and reported $30 million in total assets.
Charlie Roberts, who had been acting as secretary of the LSU Foundation, assumed the management position.
On January 15, 1988, Charles L. Solomon was hired as director of development for the LSU Foundation and reported to Roberts. Solomon resigned in May of 1989, and the board appointed Roberts as the executive director and secretary of the LSU Foundation. The LSU Foundation had grown to a staff of 14 and a total of $45 million in assets.
In July 1992, Cecil R. Phillips was appointed executive director of development of the LSU Foundation under the direction of Roberts. On May 10, 1996, Roberts resigned as executive director of the LSU Foundation and Phillips was promoted to that position. The LSU Foundation reported $97 million in total assets and had seven employees.
By 2004, when Phillips retired, the LSU Foundation had a development staff of 14 and a support staff of 29, with $279 million in total assets. During Phillips’ tenure, the university’s first campaign (the LSU Campaign) was launched and successfully concluded; a baseline of data on gift income to LSU was established; an organizational plan to blend centralized and decentralized fundraising activities was formed; a development strategy that integrated the LSU Foundation, Tiger Athletic Foundation, LSU Alumni Association and all academic units was prepared; and monthly meetings of all development staff were instituted.
Phillips was succeeded by Maj. Gen. William “Bill” Bowdon, who became the president and CEO in August 2004 after retiring from a 34-year career as an aviator and a general officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. As president and CEO of the LSU Foundation, Bowdon played a critical role in the planning, launch and successful completion of the Forever LSU campaign, the largest fundraising initiative in LSU’s history. During his tenure, the LSU Foundation expanded its capacity for bringing private dollars to LSU and celebrated a half-century of service to the university. Bowdon shepherded numerous major fundraising initiatives on behalf of LSU.
G. Lee Griffin became interim president and CEO of the LSU Foundation July 1, 2011, and continued to serve at the request of the LSU Foundation Board of Directors. Griffin announced in mid-2014 he would retire at the end of that year, pending a successful search for his successor. Prior to joining the LSU Foundation, Griffin had retired as chairman and CEO of Bank One of Louisiana—now Chase—and was chair of the last two years of the LSU Campaign. Under Griffin's leadership, the LSU Foundation developed and implemented a four-year plan to double annual fundraising and grow the endowment, marked its second most-successful fundraising year, and secured the largest unrestricted endowed gift in LSU's history. He has served on the LSU Foundation's Board of Directors since 1981 and rejoined the board following his retirement.
In May 2015, Stephen Moret succeeded Griffin as president and CEO. Prior to joining the LSU Foundation, Moret was appointed as secretary of Louisiana Economic Development. Moret acted as a liaison to President Alexander to ensure more efficient and effective fundraising efforts among LSU’s affiliate support organizations statewide. During his tenure, the LSU Foundation modernized the donor database it shares with the LSU Alumni Association and Tiger Athletic Foundation; crafted a blueprint for the future of development at LSU, in collaboration with LSU’s affiliate support organizations statewide; defined the operational architecture needed to launch the university’s next capital campaign; built LSU’s first annual giving team and introduced a campus-wide, collaborative annual giving effort; and broken ground on the Nicholson Gateway Project, which will accelerate student housing development while turning what has traditionally been the back of the LSU campus into an exciting new gateway district.
On Nov. 28, 2016, the LSU Foundation announced that the Board of Directors of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the state economic development agency for the Commonwealth of Virginia, had selected Stephen Moret as VEDP’s president and CEO, and that Moret would remain with the LSU Foundation through December. On Dec. 2, 2016, the LSU Foundation and LSU President F. King Alexander named Dan Layzell, vice president of finance and CFO for LSU, as interim president and CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2017. A nationwide search for a permanent replacement took place in spring 2017.
LSU and the LSU Foundation announced April 17, 2017, that J. Bryan Benchoff had been named president and CEO of the LSU Foundation and LSU vice president of institutional advancement. Benchoff began this position effective July 17, 2017. He previously was vice president of university advancement for Ohio University and president and CEO of the Ohio University Foundation, a dual position in which he served for nearly six years.
The LSU Campaign, LSU’s first ever capital campaign, launched April 18, 1997, as a joint effort of the LSU Foundation, the LSU Alumni Association, the Tiger Athletic Foundation, and university “friends” groups on behalf of LSU, the LSU AgCenter, and the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. The LSU Campaign was coordinated under the direction of Cecil R. Phillips, a 25-person advisory council chaired by the late Milton Womack, and a 19-member Campaign Leadership Team chaired by Chancellor William L. Jenkins.
The $150 million campaign’s three goals were to double the endowment from $61 million in 1995 to $125 million by June 2001; to double the annual rate of contributions received from approximately $14.5 million prior to the campaign to $30 million by 2000-01; and to receive at least $150 million in total gifts and pledges over the six-year campaign period, ending June 30, 2001. Campaign priorities were scholarships, faculty support funds, educational technology, LSU Libraries, and unrestricted endowment funds.
On June 30, 1997, campaign leaders announced that endowed funds had reached $85.4 million. The aggregate total of all gifts received annually had increased to $16.6 million and $24.1 million in the two years, respectively. The total of all gifts, pledges and estate commitments qualifying under the accounting rules of the campaign had reached $85.6 million, or 57 percent of the ultimate goal of $150 million.
In February 1999, the campaign reached its $150 million goal—more than two years ahead of the targeted date of June 30, 2001. The Campaign Leadership Team elected to continue the drive and aim for a new goal of $225 million. Womack transferred leadership to G. Lee Griffin, who expanded the Campaign Leadership Team from 19 to 35 members. In response to the state's introduction of TOPS, which provides tuition support to many Louisiana students, the priorities for scholarship endowments were revised to focus more on graduate fellowships and non-resident, undergraduate and graduate scholarships. Certain construction and renovation projects also moved up in the campaign's priority list, reflecting changes in academic needs and opportunities since the initial planning for the campaign five years earlier.
By the end of the fourth full year of the six-year drive, the campaign total had reached $167 million. Ultimately, donors gave $255 million to the LSU Campaign, exceeding the original campaign goal by 70 percent.
In 2006, under the leadership of Chancellor Sean O’Keefe, the LSU Foundation, the LSU Alumni Association and the Tiger Athletic Foundation publicly launched the Forever LSU campaign on behalf of LSU, the LSU AgCenter and the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. LSU supporters celebrated the kickoff of the most ambitious fundraising campaign in school history at an announcement event held in New York in June 2006.
Forever LSU’s four pillars were student support, faculty support, university-wide support and campus infrastructure. Congressman Henson Moore, chairman of the Forever LSU campaign, led a cabinet of more than 50 LSU alumni and friends in nationwide efforts to engage LSU supporters in furthering LSU’s pursuit of excellence and academic distinction among universities worldwide.
In a historic show of generosity, more than 50,000 LSU alumni, friends and corporations united to surpass the Forever LSU campaign’s $750 million goal. Forever LSU surpassed one-third of that goal by Dec. 31, 2006, with $33 million being raised in six months and the remaining amount having been raised during the silent phase of the campaign, which began in 2001. Forever LSU reached the two-thirds mark just 15 months later, with more than $500 million raised as of March 31, 2008. Ultimately, donors contributed $764 million to Forever LSU, and an additional $34 million in state-matching funds brought the final total to $798 million.
Forever LSU strengthened the university’s endowment for scholarships, fellowships and financial aid; funded programs that enrich student life; endowed chairs and professorships; modernized research facilities and equipped laboratories; enhanced existing programs; and initiated and supported new academic opportunities on campus and in locations worldwide. These advancements allow LSU to attract and retain outstanding students, professors and researchers and to contribute significantly to the learning and economic environments. Additionally, they have played a key role in LSU’s ascension into the top tier of several national rankings.
LSU’s Next Campaign
LSU's next campaign will include the university’s campuses statewide and will be the largest capital campaign ever in Louisiana’s history, with a goal of at least $1.2 billion. It will involve all LSU foundations, campuses, centers and programs.
We are in the advanced gift phase of the campaign now. What that means is we are working with LSU to define campaign priorities and talking to donors who want to be part of kicking off the largest capital campaign in Louisiana’s history by making transformational leadership gifts to LSU. Gifts to LSU made during this advanced phase gift will be celebrated now and also in the future, as contributing toward the LSU campaign.
The success of the LSU campaign will set the course for the kind of university LSU will be—the quality of the education we will offer, the research we will conduct and the impact we will have on Louisiana, the nation and the world. The LSU campaign is an opportunity to achieve our shared aspirations for LSU, through philanthropy.