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Wednesday, Jul 17, 2024

NU Launches Foundation

EDUCATION: Annual Student Aid Distributions of $25M-$30M

SAN DIEGO – For more than half a century, National University has laid down a strong foundation of serving a wide variety of learners, mostly catering to “nontraditional students” to include working adults and those affiliated with the military.

Unlike most campuses filled with students in their 20s, the average age of an NU student is about 37 years old. The nonprofit, veteran-founded institution is also known for diverse demographics in higher education.

NU is one of the largest private Minority-Serving Institutions in the United States, with two-thirds of NU students identifying as Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Another 95% of NU undergraduates are transfer students. The vast majority of NU students are working, with about half of NU’s undergraduates either active-duty servicemembers, veterans or military dependents.

Now NU, which reports an alumni network of more than 240,000 professionals, community leaders and advocates, has launched its own foundation that will champion traditionally neglected student populations and work to provide more assistance through scholarships, emergency aid and more.

Continuing the university’s focus of distribution between $25 million and $30 million per year in student aid, the NU Foundation will drive investments in student scholarship funds, support academic programs coupled with the needs of employers, and fund cutting-edge research and development to support students balancing careers, education and family responsibilities.

A Long Time Coming

The National University Foundation has been a long time coming, says the foundation’s executive director, Dr. Nancy Rohland-Heinrich, executive vice president at NU and a leader who has been with the school for more than 40 years.

Rohland-Heinrich said she remembers back in 1997 when NU became an innovator as one of the first places of higher learning to offer online classes, long before other schools made it part of their curriculum plans. (Currently at NU, about 80% of students take all their classes online, and 93% take at least some classes online.)

Nancy Rohland-Heinrich
Executive VP
National University

“This foundation is long overdue,” Rohland-Heinrich said. “It’s a natural transition for our institution to have our development effort evolve to launching a foundation. I look at it as both external and alumni foundation giving are really important. A separate entity from a university is more important than ever, especially now that we’re looking at bringing in more grants. More donations from major donors and alumni made a lot of sense.”
NU President and CEO Dr. Mark D. Milliron said the idea was brought up last year during discussions about NU’s future goals.

“It was part of a larger conversation around our strategic plan,” Milliron said. “One of the things we talked about was that one of the things that a high-quality university does is look at a combination of third-stream revenues… We thought we should have a focused foundation specifically for raising money for people who care about our students and want to help support those students to be successful.”

Foundations are part and parcel of most colleges as part of their fundraising efforts, but is a first for NU in its 53-year history. NU serves more than 50,000 students annually through its degree programs and 80,000 more through its workforce and professional training programs.

Milliron said that given the unique needs of NU students, the foundation will create pathways for students not only by removing financial barriers to access but also by “harnessing the power of research, technology and innovation to help more of these striving students rise and thrive.”

The NU Foundation will launch with a significant endowment and pledged support for matching funds from existing donors, which will amplify the impact of philanthropic giving and sustain NU’s commitment to investments in student aid and scholarships.

Mark D. Milliron
President & CEO
National University

“We’ve been funding scholarships with our own capital reserve, but we knew that we should have a focused foundation that is specifically focused on raising money for people who care about our students,” Milliron said.

Milliron said that also during the strategic planning discussions, the importance of calling attention and educating the public to NU’s place as a “robust research institution” was also paramount.

“We have about $45 million of research grants,” he said. “People have no idea what a research institution we are and how much we’re doing. One of the things we said is, ‘We’re going to claim our space as a research institution and dive deeper into that.’ We’ve got two record years in a row of grant making, of going after grants, and we launched our Cause Research Institute last year, our centralized support for grant writing and research work across the university.”

The NU Foundation will focus on three primary funding areas: scholarships for non-traditional, working and military students; donors having an opportunity to support named scholarships and academic programs, plus workforce-relevant programs aligned with the needs of fast-growing industries; and “Student Success Sciences,” in which funding will also support innovative pilot programs and the integration of academic, career, financial, emotional and family support needed to help students stay on track and reach their goals.

The NU Foundation will be formally launched at a July 25 celebration on the USS Midway. At the event, the school will honor its Humanitarians of the Year Dr. E. Lee Rice and Mary Rice as well as commemorate Milliron’s first full year at NU.

National University
PRESIDENT: Dr. Mark D. Milliron
BUSINESS: Nonprofit education
REVENUE: $500 million
NUMBER OF STUDENTS: 130,000 learners served per year (50,000 degree-seeking students and 80,000 workforce and professional development students)
WEBSITE: nu.edu
CONTACT: (858) 628-8648
SOCIAL IMPACT: NU is a dedicated Hispanic-Serving Institution serving a diverse population of students.
NOTABLE: National University was founded by retired U.S. Navy Captain David Chigos, who want-ed to build a school that would meet the workforce training and continuing education needs of the region’s military and working student population.


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