Newswise — For the first time in its 173-year-history, Tulane University's endowment has reached the $1 billion mark, a milestone achieved by only 62 other American colleges and one that comes at a critical time as the school renews itself after receiving more than $600 million in damages from Hurricane Katrina.

Often viewed as the lifeblood of an institution, an endowment is an investment fund from which a university derives interest. Reaching the $1 billion mark was one goal of "Promise and Distinction: The Campaign for Tulane University," which made its public launch in March 2005, just months before Hurricane Katrina pummeled New Orleans. The overall campaign goal of Promise and Distinction is to raise $700 million by 2008. So far Tulane has raised more than $652 million toward that goal.

Despite the battering of Katrina, Tulane was able to reach the $1 billion endowment goal one year ahead of schedule, raising $85 million this year, exceeding its goal of $75 million, despite having a smaller development staff. "We reached this historic milestone because of our successes in fund raising and in the management of the endowment," Tulane President Scott Cowen said, "The income from this endowment is significantly strengthening our academic core and expediting our financial recovery."

The vast majority of the endowment is restricted with respect to use. Among other purposes, the income from the endowment will be used to attract and retain world-class faculty; fund pioneering research; support new endowed chairs and professorships; recruit outstanding students through scholarships, fellowships, research, travel and internship opportunities; enhance the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library's collections; support women's education; support partnerships for rebuilding New Orleans; fund physical improvements to the university and support the Tulane Athletics Endowment to ensure the long-term financial viability of Tulane's Division 1-A athletics program. "The size of the endowment is a means to an end; that end is to continue to build a truly preeminent and distinctive research university. Despite the on-going challenges of overcoming Katrina, Tulane is well on its way in achieving that goal," Cowen said.

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