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The Gift that Gives to the Soul

August 16, 2018

Doug Gorence (‘77, BS, economics) is someone who has his eyes set on the future. As the president and chief investment officer of the University of Minnesota Foundation Investment Advisors (UMFIA), Doug is responsible for managing a two-and-a-half billion dollar endowment, always keeping the fund’s growth in view. With 4.5 percent of the endowment awarded each year, he and his team perform a delicate balancing act—maintaining a respectable rate of return while minimizing financial risk. But his eye toward the future is by no means confined to his role at UMFIA.  

Shaping the Future

In 2003, he and his wife Jane created the Doug and Jane Gorence Endowed Scholarship, an endowed fund for high-performing economics students in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). They recently decided to make another significant gift to their fund to support the University of Minnesota’s Driven campaign. “I tend to think about the future,” explains Doug. “Can we maintain the purchasing power of the gift over time? Can we even grow it?” he asks. “These are the kinds of questions I think I need to be asking as a donor.” It’s the same attitude that has served him in his role at UMFIA.

Doug attributes his future-oriented attitude in part to his background as a student of CLA. “It requires critical thinking and a great amount of curiosity to do this job well,” he explains, referring to his position at UMFIA, “and I think the same thing applies to being a donor.” In a dynamic, ever-changing world, Doug emphasizes the value of a long-term perspective. “Coming out of a liberal arts perspective with a sense of history, time, and constant change has all really helped in fostering such a perspective.”

Make an Impact with CLA

The importance the Gorences place on their liberal arts backgrounds drives their giving. “Both of us have found that our educations have been so meaningful in the directions of our lives,” says Jane. “In supporting Doug’s role at UMFIA and his desire to give back to CLA, we just want to pay it forward.”

Doug and Jane always make an effort to meet face-to-face with their scholarship recipients. “I want to make eye contact, feel the handshake, hear them say how they’re going to make an impact,” says Jane. “We continue to meet these students because it fuels our interest in financing them.”

Jane points out that it’s often very easy to put off donating: “It’s easy to wait for a better time, but deep down inside, you want to do it. There is so much satisfaction in doing so. It’s the gift that gives to the soul.”

By adding to the Jane and Gorence Endowment Fund, the Gorences have shown their confidence not only in the endowment fund but in the students who benefit from it. At the root of their gift-giving is a keen sense of the value of a liberal arts education. “What you get from a liberal arts education is a set of life-learning skills that keep you open to new ideas,” explains Doug, “and that enables you to reflect on the past, think critically about the present, and have an eye towards the future. I think that’s a more important skill set going forward into the twenty-first century than a lot of people appreciate.”

This story was written by an undergraduate student content creator in CLAgency. Meet the team.