The Foundation completed its tenth year of service in 2016 on a number of high notes. For such a small staff, we packed a lot into the year. We believe that we had success in supporting the Foundation mission and we hope you believe that as well. As we completed the year, we took some time to review what we did, how we did it, and how we can make it better in 2017. We will be producing an interim annual report with a lot of the facts and figures for the year, our new initiatives for 2017, and our initial financial results in the next couple weeks and will provide it to the Fort Leavenworth/Combined Arms Center and College leadership as well as our board and supporters. This interim report will be turned into the annual report as we get further into our annual audit and can finalize the financial numbers.
As we looked at the year in review, we did note that we are very busy with programs that support our mission. We are following what I consider to be a three-part strategy to build a vibrant future for the Foundation. We need to have programs that make us relevant to our supported populations. We have to have an engaged board of trustees that actively governs the foundation and ensures our financial stability. And, we have to have a stable fundraising capability driven by sponsorships of our programs as well as general support for the mission of the Foundation. We made great strides in each of these three strategic focus areas during the year.
In support of our major mission areas, let me quickly review some of the highlights:
Scholarship – Enhancing the Academic Experience. We have a number of ongoing programs and initiatives that support the College mission. We have two visiting professor programs that support ongoing initiatives in the curriculum. This year we said goodbye to Dr. Dan Bell, the General Hugh Shelton Distinguished Visiting Professor of Ethics sponsored by a grant from the Perot Foundation as he finished his three-year tenure in support of the ethics programs within the College. We sponsored four lecture series, one that supports the CGSC Guest Speaker program and three separate after-hours programs. For the after-hours programs we sponsored or co-sponsored four lectures in the World War I series begun in 2014; we hosted three Vietnam Commemoration lectures with our initial lecture in spring 2016; and we hosted four InterAgency Brown-Bag Lectures to support the interagency curriculum and focus of study. We published four Interagency Journals through our Simons Center and we began a peer review process to make the IA Journal more prestigious in academic terms. We co-sponsored the 7th Annual Ethics Symposium with the topic “The Ethics of Military Humanitarian Operations and Intervention” with 79 CGSC students attending for elective credit. We co-sponsored two National Security Round Table events with business and civic leaders spending time with students and faculty. We supported the academic mission in numerous ways from supporting the visit of the Higher Learning Commission for the accreditation visit to supporting five academic exchanges with international staff colleges. We continued to support the majority of the awards for academic excellence at graduation for students, the awards for the CGSC Educators of the Year, and this year we began supporting the awards for the CGSC Emeritus Faculty program.
Family – Enriching the Lives of Our Military and Their Families. We hosted a variety of family related programs throughout the year including sponsorship for the summer youth reading programs and the activities programs for youth reading at the Ike Skelton CARL library. We assisted with spouse programs through ACS and we hosted two “7 Habits of Highly Effective Military Families” workshops to help strengthen family units. We hosted the first ever Women’s Conference in March with the theme: Inspire! Educate! Motivate!
Outreach – Connecting Americans with the College and Their Military. Our flagship outreach event, the Celebration of International Friendship, introduced the Class of 2016 International Military Students to the Kansas City community and featured a performance by the world renowned West Point Glee Club at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. We held a number of outreach activities during the year including tours of CGSC for major business leaders and their staffs such as the CEO and executives from Kansas City Southern Railroad. All told, we hosted over 20 tour events introducing over 150 business, civic, and educational leaders to the college. We upped our game with our website and social media programs including an expanded outlet for faculty and student input as well as very timely content. We hosted two every successful college information meetings with business and civic leaders, one in Kanas City at which Lt. Gen. Bob Brown talked about the college and one in New York City at which retired General Dave Petraeus spoke. We continued the focus on students, faculty, and the college in our two Foundation News magazines, which have a circulation of more than 4,000 worldwide. We continue to develop our alumni association programs in order to reach out and keep our alumni up to date on the college.
The board of trustees is down from a high of over 60 members when we started, to 49 in 2013, and to just 27 at the beginning of 2017. We changed our board meeting structure in order to better engage our members in their mission to oversee the Foundation. We said thank you to a number of trustees, named two to Emeritus status, elected officers, and welcomed four new members during the year. The board showed great interest and support for all of our programs and has helped us with outreach as well as other programs. We streamlined our committee structure at the spring board meeting and had excellent participation throughout the year.
Financial results were much improved over 2015, but we still have a long way to go. While we still have money remaining in the 5-Star Generals Commemorative Coin program proceeds and in the Perot
Foundation support to the Simons Center, those funds are finite and we are working to replace them in order to continue the Simons Center mission and support the Foundation overhead. We closely manage our overhead as a percentage of our total expenses and as of November 30, 2016, our overhead expenses were down to 28 percent of our total expenses. Our accountant and I have dedicated time and effort to reducing our overhead so that we can assure our donors that the money they give us is spent on support to the mission to the fullest extent possible. Our corporate and foundation support was up near 400 percent over the previous year and our individual contributions were up 15 percent over 2015, with the majority of our annual appeal donations still being recorded in December. Our program income from the Celebration of International Friendship was up over 25 percent above the previous year and our gift shop showed a 7 percent growth year over year. Again, these numbers are through November as we’re still compiling the end of year numbers. While revenue from donors, programs, and investments was up on the year, we’re still in need of support from our donors on a continuing basis so that we can run this amazing variety of programs and even grow new programs to better support the many needs.
We finished our hotwash with a discussion of the upcoming year. We hope to continue all of the support we gave during 2016 plus we are introducing a couple of new initiatives. We will announce our new Shelton Distinguished Visiting Professor of Ethics within the coming week. We are working on an initiative to help the College protect, preserve, promote, and present the art and gift collection that you see adorning the halls and trophy cases throughout the College campus. We began an initiative to fund a Distinguished Visiting Chair of Leader Development in 2016 and we continue to seek the resources to bring that program to life, hopefully in 2017. We are researching ways and means to introduce family member college scholarships and monthly adult reading programs. We are also pursuing a grant program to support faculty tuition for doctorate degrees and to find ways to do research grant funding. We are providing support to the Guest Speaker Program with a major corporate CEO for both CGSOC and SAMS. Finally, we are considering numerous ways and means to promote collaborative leadership studies between business and the military by sharing best practices. We are ambitious in our efforts to support the College, but I believe this is the best way to show our relevance and support our mission.
We couldn’t do all of this without support from our trustees, paid staff and volunteers. I’ve already discussed the great strides that our board has made in engagement and support and we couldn’t do all that we do without them. As I said at the beginning, our staff is small, consisting of five full time employees, one part time employee, and supported by five separate contract specialists. We are small, but busy, so I would like to thank our staff for their dedication and enthusiasm for our mission. Likewise, we have amazing support from a variety of volunteers within the College as well as throughout the community. You help us in so many ways, thank you.
In sum, we had an amazing year to celebrate our 10th anniversary of service to the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. We believe that we’ll be here for many more years to come and we hope to stay active in support to our mission. Won’t you join us by getting engaged in our programs as a participant or volunteer and especially as a donor? We appreciate your support.