Burgners dedicated to paying it forward

Published in the Winter-Spring 2016 edition of ACU Today magazine

Five years.

That was the timeline Daniel (’10) and Emily (Hood ’11) Burgner set for themselves: Fund an unrestricted endowed scholarship of $10,000 in five years.

The Burgners weren’t even “the Burgners” at the time Daniel created the Rhonda Holder Endowed Scholarship in Fall 2012 — they were only engaged — but they both say they felt strongly about embarking on the joint financial commitment before they’d said their vows.

They married in Fall 2013. They fully funded the endowed scholarship in Fall 2015 — two years ahead of schedule.

“Neither of us would have been able to attend Abilene Christian University without scholarships and financial aid, and we were so blessed by those gifts,” Emily said. “ACU changed our lives. We believe in the work that God is doing at ACU. We don’t see our giving as a sacrifice. Yes, we still have student loans and bills to pay. But God has blessed us with everything we have, including our ACU education, and we have to give back.”

Now retired, Rhonda (Boyer ’72) Holder was a longtime administrative coordinator in the Department of Political Science and a mentor to Daniel. Keeping with tradition of honoring ACU staff members who influenced their lives, the Burgners recently created the Mark Lewis Endowed Scholarship in honor of Lewis (’95 M.M.F.T.), associate dean of students and one of Emily’s mentors.

Daniel and Emily said they chose to fund endowed scholarships because they directly benefit students, and as benefactors, they are able to know which students specifically receive aid from their endowment. Contributing to ACU’s endowment also ensures their gifts keep on giving.

Every year, a portion of the interest generated from the ACU’s endowment provides money for endowed scholarships. As the endowment grows, the percentage grows. As of May 31, ACU’s endowment has a value of $381 million, having received $184 million in endowment gifts while disbursing $245 million in scholarships and other funding.

“That number may be huge, but gifts to the endowment or ACU in general don’t have to be,” Daniel said, adding even $10 given goes a long way.

“ACU is more diverse and academically challenging than ever before,” he said, “and our gifts are a vote of confidence in the direction ACU is going.”

Emily agreed.

“We have to keep giving back,” she said, “so others have the same opportunities we did.”

– SARAH CARLSON

Endowment by the numbers  

$29,347,752

Amount committed to endowment as part of ACU’s Partnering in the Journey campaign between June 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2015

$25,000  

Minimum amount required to create a restricted endowed scholarship ($10,000 is required for an unrestricted endowed scholarship)

1,861  

Total donors giving to endowment as part of ACU’s Partnering in the Journey campaign between June 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2015

$167

Amount per month you can give to pay off a $10,000 endowment in five years

9 and 12

Ages of the youngest donors to an ACU endowed scholarship. Owen and Riley Fisher, now 11 and 15, gave to the Judy Fisher Endowed Scholarship, named in honor of their grandmother.

96  

New ACU endowments created between June 1, 2010, and Sept. 30, 2015

$10,000

Minimum amount required to create an unrestricted endowed scholarship