Financing Forward


Returning to Dickinson as the college’s vice president for finance & administration and chief financial officer (CFO) this fall, David Walker has one thing on his mind—growth.

“One of my top priorities is to continue growing Dickinson’s endowment to support our students and our broader community,” says Walker, who previously served as vice president for finance and planning at Messiah University and was associate vice president & associate treasurer at Dickinson prior to that. “In my view, there’s no surer way to move this college forward.”

The clearest demonstration of this, Walker explains, is scholarships. Dickinson currently budgets roughly $70 million per year for scholarships and financial aid, and 13% of that is funded by scholarship endowments. While that is impressive, some of the wealthiest colleges and universities fund their entire scholarship budget from their endowments.

“That’s where I see the most opportunity on multiple fronts,” Walker explains. “The goal for the Campaign for Scholarships is $75 million. Reaching that goal will provide an additional $3.6 million in funding for financial aid each year. Not only does that give us the ability to enroll more deserving students, but it also means that we don’t need to draw those funds away from the annual budget. This strategy will diversify our revenue away from our student revenue dependency and enable us to invest more of the annual budget on the student experience for every student.”

Accordingly, when President John E. Jones III ’77, P’11, recently announced that his goal is to grow the endowment to $1 billion to firmly place Dickinson among the upper echelon of higher-ed institutions, Walker was more than up for the challenge. “I am confident we can and will do it,” he says. “Only 10 years ago our endowment was just over $350 million. Today, we’re at almost $630 million. That’s over 75% growth in just a decade. If we keep that up, a $1 billion endowment is absolutely something I see in Dickinson’s future.”

And the impact of that would be immense. In addition to strengthening Dickinson’s reputation, that would allow the college to fund an additional 20% more of its financial aid budget from the endowment or provide support for 40 more endowed faculty chair positions.

Though the college’s continued financial strength will play a key role in achieving Jones’ vision, Walker would be the first to tell you that it will take more than sound financial tactics to reach that ambitious $1 billion goal. “We can’t do it without our donors,” he says. “Investment returns have definitely played an important role in the endowment’s growth, and they will continue to do so, but it’s really new gifts to the endowment that spur this kind of growth. More than anything, it’s our donors who will help us get there, and that’s why we’re so thankful for these individuals who choose to partner with the college year after year with their philanthropy.”

Published November 1, 2022