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The Associated Press August 5, 2011, 5:19PM ET

UW sets private fundraising record with $43.1M

The University of Wyoming set a record for annual private contributions when it received $43.1 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, the college announced Friday.

It was just the second time in the school's 125-year history that giving has surpassed the $40 million mark. The previous record was $43 million in 2008.

The university received about 24,000 contributions over the year that included money from alumni, corporations and individuals, said University of Wyoming Foundation President Ben Blalock.

Some major gifts totaled $1 million or more, but smaller gifts were the backbone of the fundraising.

"We always try to emphasize that major gifts are clearly critical to the success of the university, but having a broad base of contributors is how you really build a very strong fundraising program long term," Blalock said.

It helps that UW is the only state-supported, four-year university in Wyoming, which means it benefits from "the passion and commitment of our alumni and friends," he said.

In addition, Wyoming has avoided the worst of the recession, Blalock said.

The university received $12.5 million in new bequest pledges during the year. Its endowment now totals more than $303 million.

Blalock noted that other universities around the country are doing OK with private fundraising, but not many are as successful as Wyoming.

"We feel very fortunate where we are," he said.

UW President Tom Buchanan said the financial support is extraordinary.

"I can't overstate my appreciation for the continued generosity of our public and private donors," Buchanan said in a statement. "Their contributions strengthen the very foundation of the university, and it would be impossible for us to be one of the best public land-grant universities in the nation if not for their ongoing support."

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