June 23, 2008 Rotogram


Although she had to come home early, Tori Ferguson had an excellent experience as our Rotary Youth Exchange ambassador to Ecuador last year. She’s here today to share some of her adventures. Perhaps she’ll also talk  about her  responsibilities as  Starkville’s new Miss Hospitality and her upcoming competition for the state title.


Next Monday is our last meeting of the Rotary year so it will mark the “official” changing of the Guard. President Ned will have a chance to reflect on his fine year of  leadership before handing the symbolic gavel over to Chip Templeton. Chip’s administration that will lead the Club effective July 1 will be Martha Wells, (vice president/president-elect); Jeff Donald (secretary); Nellah Taylor (treasurer); and new directors Bob Daniels, Joe Fratesi, Tommy Prentice, and Janette Self.


Attendance: There were 103 members (73 active, 29 exempt, and 1 honorary) present and 51 active, 28 exempt, and 7 honorary members missing.

Invocation and Pledge: Prentiss Gordon.

Guests: Guests of members were Barbara Spencer of Lynne Richardson; Bo Hemphill of John Rush; Clint Graves of Prentiss Gordon; Judy  Couey of Frank Chiles; Kate and Lesley Charlton of their grandfather O.A. Cleveland; Robert Ruby of his Dad Roy Ruby; Sarah Rajala of Donna Reese; and Tammy Tyndall of George Sherman. Club guests were RYE student Negrita Caicedo and her two host sisters Victoria and Anna Katherine Follett; and Paul Sims (Starkville Daily News). They were introduced by incoming Director Tommy Prentice.

Makeup: Past President Larry Mullins made up aboard the Emerald Princess somewhere in the Mediterranean. Tough duty!

Dollars for SOAR: Martha Wells, incoming vice president standing in for Ned Browning and Chip Templeton, presented Rotary’s  check for $1,000 to Nellah Taylor for the support of SOAR.  Nellah said the SOAR Endowment Scholarships total had now grown to more than $210,000 and community grants for 2008 will exceed $10,000.

Rotary Minute: Jim Orman’s Rotary minute was an example of the international connections of Rotary. He was among a handful of U.S. citizens on a tour and met a past district governor from Australia. They became good friends for the rest of the tour and Jim learned the Australian club had initiated Rotary Youth Exchange very soon after the end of  WWII. They exchanged young people with Germany hoping to foster goodwill to replace the hatred resulting from the war. “It was a reminder to me of Rotary’s world wide network and its importance in promoting world peace and understanding.” He brought a banner from the Australian club.

Presidential Citation: District Gov. Jack Forbus presented the Club with a R.I. Presidential Citation. He said the program had been initiated some 20 years ago and Starkville Rotary Club has achieved the Citation every year. Martha Wells accepted the certificate on behalf of President Ned Browning who was attending a conference in Michigan.

Meeting Notes: Martha reminded Rotarians of the invitation to the dedication of the renovated harness racing track at Mississippi Horse Park Friday June 20.

She announced meetings of the Ambassadorial Scholarship and Membership/ Classification committees following adjournment of the noon meeting.


Maria de Lourdes Caicedo Cordero, whom we have grown to know and love as “Negrita,” spoke briefly to thank the Club, individual Rotarians, and her host families for her “wonderful” year as a Rotary Exchange Student. Negrita not only was the first ever RYE student to be able to receive her diploma from Starkville High School, she graduated with honors. Admitting she was happy to be going home to rejoin her family in Ambato, she said “Thank you for all the experiences I’ve enjoyed. You are my second family and I’ll miss you. But I promise I’ll come back to visit.” Negrita flew home Wednesday from GTR Airport.

The Club is indebted to the four non-Rotarian families who made this year’s exchange program successful. Negrita’s host families were Bill and Vicki Burnett, Tori, David, and Maggie; and Randy and Melissa Follett, Victoria, Anna Katherine, and Ethan. Maryna’s host families were John and Susan Tomlinson, Elizabeth, Tillery, and John Robert; and Bill and Carol Jones and Beth.


With half a year left to go, MSU’s State of the Future capital campaign has already surpassed its goal by more than $27 million. Rotarian John Rush, Vice President for Development and Alumni, said the goal of $400 million by December 2008 was achieved a year early and currently stands at $427,380,665.

Although he’s excited about the dollars, Rush said he’s even more pleased that the campaign has enabled the Foundation to reach out and involve more alumni and friends  than ever before. “The major gifts are critical,” he said, “but involving more alumni and friends in annual giving is just as significant.”

The Mississippi State University Foundation was incorporated in 1963 as a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization governed by a 46-member board.  Rush explained that being a private and not public organization enables it to direct funds according to the wishes of the donor.  “This gives us much more flexibility than if it was a state (public) organization.”  It is closely linked to the MSU Alumni Association.

Where does the money go? Rush said the Foundation currently has allocated some $40 million for endowed faculty positions and $77 million for endowed scholarships. Major donors are able to direct their gifts to buildings, other physical facilities, and to academic and other units of the University. Lectures and lecture series are also supported  through the Foundation.

The endowment fund stands at $280 million from some 900 donors.

The Foundation’s first capital fund was conducted from 1992-1997. The $75 million goal was also surpassed and the fund topped $143 million.

When the Foundation was established, it had three staff members – last year the staff numbered more than 30. Rush gave much credit for strengthening the Foundation to the leadership of Past MSU President and Rotarian Don Zacharias, who recognized that many alumni prefer to support their colleges. Today, each college has its own development officer working with the Foundation.

“We don’t talk about donations – these are gifts.”  Rush said the annual fund actually generates only about 10 percent of the dollars. “Even though 90 percent of the gifts (givers) represent only 10 percent of the dollars, they build lifetime relationships” with the University.

Planned giving is extremely significant. Rush said that they know about more than $121 million in planned giving but this is normally expected to represent  only one-third of the actual total of planned giving that exists in estate plans and bequests. .

Taking a closer look at State of the Future, Rush said that so far, 423 donors made their first-ever gifts of $10,000 or more. Thirty-one gifts topped $1 million. Nineteen $1 million+ gifts came from corporations. Just as important, however, is that 21,325 people made their first gift ever to the University as a result of the campaign.

Seventeen carefully selected skilled money managers manage the $240 million investment pool for the Foundation. The minimum annual growth target is 9 percent, which has been topped in most year. But with the current economy returns will probably be flat at best.

One of the biggest challenges of the Foundation is that it must plan for the future and for inflation. Rush said the Foundation’s goal is to grow the endowment fund to $400 million in 5 years.

While he’s more than pleased with State of the Future, Rush said MSU’s endowment  still is less than most  other universities in the Southeastern Conference.

In response to a question, he said gifts to the Bulldog Club for athletics are routed through the Foundation.

Rush, a Mississippi native and MSU graduate who has remained on the staff and faculty following graduation, was introduced by Ed Clynch.


Three individuals have been approved by the Membership/Classification committee and the Board of Directors and are published for review by members. If no objections are received by next Monday (June 30), they will be considered elected to membership in Starkville Rotary Club.

Scott Dodd, owner of Express Employment Professionals, is proposed by Stu Vance for active membership with the classification Human Resources.

Mike McGrevey, MSU Vice President for Finance and Administration, is proposed by Chip Templeton for the classification Education/Administration.

Tammy Tyndall, City of Starkville, is nominated by George Sherman with the classification of Government/Local.

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