Professor giving a lecture to students in old main

Trustee Matching Fund allows Wofford to stretch gifts

Jimmy and Marsha Gibbs initiate fund to encourage endowed scholarships

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President Nayef Samhat, center, recognizes Marsha and Jimmy Gibbs at the recent dedication of the Tri Delta House in the Stewart H. Johnson Greek Village.
2016-11-17

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College trustee and long-time supporter Jimmy I. Gibbs and his wife, Marsha, have established the Trustee Matching Fund, a multimillion-dollar commitment intended to encourage the establishment of endowed scholarships for students at the college.

Already, the Trustee Matching Fund has led to the creation of an endowed scholarship for women majoring in business and another to support students with learning differences.

“I’ve always been a believer of ‘the more you give, the more you get,’” Jimmy Gibbs says.

That mindset motivated the establishment of the Trustee Matching Fund, says Calhoun Kennedy, associate vice president and executive director for advancement. “This is one of the most selfless gifts ever given to Wofford. Scholarships will always be our top priority because students are our top priority. Many outstanding students who want to attend Wofford have difficulty doing so because of financial constraints. Students who look at Wofford have options, and these scholarships can make the difference between a student coming to Wofford or choosing another institution.”

While Wofford typically requires a minimum of $50,000 to establish a permanently endowed scholarship, matching opportunities available through the Trustee Matching Fund start at $25,000. The fund has three commitment levels: Level One, which requires a donor commitment of $25,000 for a $25,000 match to establish an endowment of $50,000; Level Two, which requires a donor commitment of $50,000 to $399,999 for a match of $50,000 to create an endowment of $100,000 or more; and Level Three, which requires a donor commitment of $400,000 and above for a match of $100,000 to create an endowment of $500,000 or more Matching funds are limited, and requests for the funds will be accepted on an ongoing basis until all funds are committed. The college will credit all matching dollars triggered by the Trustee Matching Fund to the scholarship fund of the endowed scholarship donor.

“The money is theirs to start making a difference,” says Gibbs, who established the fund as an incentive to engage new scholarship donors and to magnify the impact of their gifts.

Kennedy says the impact of the endowed scholarships is two-fold. Scholarships help the college stay competitive and attract top students, and they also decrease the burden of scholarships on the college’s operating budget.

In 1983, Jimmy and Marsha Gibbs established a scholarship at Wofford in memory of Jimmy’s father, Melvin I. “Razor” Gibbs, who graduated from the college in 1943. That was the start of what has become a long legacy of giving to the college: Gibbs Stadium, an additional endowed scholarship, the Marsha Gibbs Tri Delta House in the Stewart H. Johnson Greek Village, gifts to the capital campaign and special projects, support of the Terrier Club’s Terrier Ball, and service on the college’s board of trustees.

“This latest gift could not be more appropriately focused, given our needs,” says Dr. David Wood, senior vice president for advancement. “Marsha and Jimmy Gibbs have provided generous support to virtually every charitable organization in the region, including the award-winning Gibbs Cancer Center, part of the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. We are fortunate that they are faithful friends of Wofford College.”

Endowed scholarships leave a legacy, Wood adds, providing perpetual scholarship support because they are funded through the dividends generated from a principal balance. They also are a meaningful way to honor a family member, friend or favorite faculty member.

“It represents a legacy, and it also creates a legacy by providing deserving students with access to the liberal arts experience in preparation for meaningful lives as citizens, leaders and scholars,” Wood says.

Using the Trustee Matching Fund, 1991 graduate Erin Mitchell Watson, managing director and head of strategy for SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Atlanta and a member of the Wofford Alumni Association Board, and her husband, Tom, established the Edward J. Mitchell Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund for a woman majoring in business with a background of campus and community involvement.

Clint North, a 1979 graduate with one son currently attending Wofford and another who graduated this year, and his wife, Amy, saw the Trustee Matching Fund as a way to help make a positive impact on the lives of deserving students. They established the North Family Endowed Fund to create a scholarship for students with learning differences and to support Wellness Center programs.

As of Nov. 10, the Trustee Matching Fund has generated 49 commitments to establish scholarships; 34 new scholarships, including five for student-athletes; 15 additions to existing scholarships, including six for student-athletes; $2.21 million in scholarship commitments by donors; and $2.15 million in match money from the Trustee Matching Fund had been claimed.

For more information about how to establish an endowed scholarship and take advantage of the Trustee Matching Fund, go to www.wofford.edu/trusteematchingfund or contact Calhoun Kennedy at kennedycl@wofford.edu or 864-597-4211.