The campus of Sandhills Community College

Aerial view of Sandhills Community College. David Sinclair/The Pilot

Sandhills Community College Foundation’s endowment outshone the average for all college and university endowments for the past year — by more than 5 percent, according to national figures compiled by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO).

Germaine Elkins credits a conservative investment stance adopted by the SCC Foundation (SCCF) Board Finance Committee more than a decade ago for building up the college’s coffers.

In 2007, SCC had $15 million in net assets and around $11 million invested. Following the economic recession that hit the following year, Elkins said then-SCCF Chairman Stan Bradshaw recommended the college move toward index funds.

As opposed to picking individual investments or timing the market as to when to increase or decrease risk, this “passive path” employs a balanced portfolio with regard to equities and fixed income instruments. Using a 60/40 split in allocations, Elkins said when the market shoots way up SCC doesn’t see that big rise but, conversely, when there is a dip in the market there isn’t a substantial loss.

“We have always had a good active group of advisors,” Elkins said, noting that Bradshaw, a Pinehurst-based businessman, has recently stepped up to chair the SCCF Finance Committee again. “This passive approach is the best position to be in. It is a slow, steady approach and a fairly conservative way to be invested. We really are trying to keep up with inflation.”

As of March 31, SCC now holds $43 million in net assets and just under $40 million endowed in long-term investments.

In addition to outshining other college endowments in 2020, SCC has also outperformed in each of the past three, five and 10-year periods as well,

The endowment provides funding for a wide breadth of programs at SCC. In a typical year, it supports around $1.2 million in student scholarships. Another $1.5 million is directed to the purchase of equipment, professional staff and faculty development, and support for the college’s library and athletic program, among other needs.

“Things that we couldn’t normally be able to support using state funds here at the college. Those are big ways the endowment is used,” Elkins said.

The Sandhills Promise is a scholarship program, which began in the fall of 2017, that provides for two years of free tuition for Moore County and Hoke County students enrolling at Sandhills directly following high school graduation. Home-schooled students are also eligible. In addition, SCC guarantees that no student will ever have to leave because of an inability to pay college-related bills.

The SCC Foundation has also ramped up its capital campaign fundraising in recent years, raising around $16 million in total. Those efforts included development of the Bradshaw Performing Arts Center and Foundation Hall, the college’s new home for its flagship nursing program.

“When you think about the state budget as a whole, we add 10 percent in endowments and private gifts coming in. That is a big deal when you consider the size of our college,” Elkins said. “We are adding a lot more from the SCC Foundation than most other community colleges get.”

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