Officials at The Campanile Foundation say the Bitcoin gift, received in October, opens the door to similar contributions and a wide range of never-before imagined programs of research and teaching in cryptocurrency.
David Fuhriman, chief financial officer of The Campanile Foundation, said the SDSU auxiliary will keep almost all of the contribution in the form of Bitcoin instead of immediately converting it all to cash as many other universities have done.
These could include assistance for a student internship to further research on how cryptocurrency might be “institutionalized” at SDSU. Future uses also could include a Recognized Student Organization for crypto devotees at SDSU, or work toward a system to permit broader digital transactions at the university.
The result is what Fuhriman calls a “quasi-endowment” that departs from the traditional practice of never spending the principal in an endowment. In the Montezuma & Satoshi Cryptocurrency Endowment, as it is being called, 1% of the holdings will be drawn off each quarter for one or more campus programs to “explore uses and discover how SDSU could interact with cryptocurrency and Bitcoin specifically,” Fuhriman said.
The very first person to donate cryptocurrency to San Diego State University wants to make sure he’s not the last.
Provided by an alumnus who wants to remain anonymous, the donation came via round number of satoshis, the underlying unit of account in Bitcoin, rather than in US dollars and carries a current value of just under $25,000.
“If the value of bitcoin goes up, then this endowment could last forever,” Fuhriman said. While SDSU’s approach exposes the value to potential losses from a downturn in the cryptocurrency market, “we believe over the long run that this could be a really good benefit to SDSU.”
“This is all new,” he said. “It’s exploratory.”
Created in 2009, the digital forms of financial exchange are now valued at well over $2 trillion worldwide. Retaining the gift as cryptocurrency also was the wish of the donor, a former undergraduate student and residential housing assistant. Rajah Gainey, an associate director in the University Relations and Development (URAD) Office of Housing Administration, said talks with the donor initially focused on a scholarship or annual pledge to support housing efforts but pivoted to his desire to help SDSU adopt new technology more quickly.
“The donor envisions a future where both donors and students understand the value and utility of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in supporting SDSU, including receiving and spending on campus.” With the continuing worldwide rise in crypto assets, Fuhriman said SDSU’s entry into the arena will help it engage with potential donors who have “interests in unique areas,” and younger donors who may have nontraditional attitudes toward wealth creation.
The donor’s lead gift is already allowing other donors to donate using Bitcoin and Ethereum. Following his gift four additional donations have augmented the first contribution. SDSU uses a platform called Kraken to execute its crypto exchanges.