The late John S. “Jack” Ludington, ’51, had a long history of giving back to Albion College. From serving on the Alumni Association Board of Directors to chairing the Albion College Board of Trustees to acting as an Albion ambassador in his hometown of Midland, he was all that you could ask for in an alumnus. Not only was he a devoted volunteer for Albion, but he was a generous donor, supporting numerous building campaigns and establishing an endowed professorship that now bears his name.
It’s not surprising, then, that in the last days of his life Ludington, who was chairman emeritus of Dow Corning Corporation, chose to make one final gift to Albion, this time an undesignated gift to the College’s endowment. As such, his gift will be invested as part of the endowment, and a portion of the income generated will be used in support of the teaching and learning that are at the heart of the Albion experience.
Laura Ludington Hollenbeck, ’78, and Annie Ludington Sullivan, ’82, note that their father believed this gift was the best way for him to help secure Albion’s future.
“My dad always spoke so affectionately of Albion,” Laura says. “He valued the professors he had there and felt his Albion education made possible much of what he achieved in his career. He just knew that he wanted to make one last gift that would make possible those same kinds of experiences for other young people in the years ahead.”
Because endowment funds are invested in perpetuity, they provide a constant, dependable source of income for an institution. At Albion, endowment income helps bridge the gap between what students pay in tuition and the actual cost of their education. No student pays the full cost of his or her education.
Albion’s endowment income currently represents 14 percent of the annual operating budget. These funds support students, directly through scholarships and indirectly through the support of programs, both academic and co-curricular. They support faculty research and professional development, our Institutes and athletic programs, and every activity on campus at some level. According to Mike Frandsen, vice president for finance and administration, “Without the endowment, Albion would not be the institution we know today, and it would not be as well positioned to provide opportunities for future generations.”
Albion’s endowment is currently a healthy $168-million, making it the second largest among private colleges and universities in Michigan, according to figures from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). However, among the members of the Great Lakes Colleges Association, Albion’s endowment is relatively small, with Oberlin College having the largest in that group at nearly five times the value of Albion’s endowment. The College ranks 177th nationally among the 508 private institutions that participated in the NACUBO survey.
The College’s endowment has been built over time through careful stewardship and through charitable gifts. A key goal for the future is to continue this pattern of growth.
“A strong endowment enables an institution to change with the times,” notes President Donna Randall, “and to capitalize on emerging trends. By increasing Albion’s endowment through gifts such as this one from Jack Ludington, we can give the College this much-needed flexibility.”
Jack’s son, Tom Ludington, ’76, is now himself a College trustee and chairs the board’s Finance Committee.
“Dad was able to foresee many of the headwinds that private liberal arts colleges like Albion College would face,” Tom says, “particularly institutions that have traditionally served students from Michigan families. He believed that building Albion’s endowment would be critical to the College’s success in moderating tuition demands on students but also maintaining competitive faculty and staff compensation, a belief shared by the current Board of Trustees. We will put his gift to good use.”