Advancing our mission today, and in the future
Endowments make it possible for generous donors to have the impact of their gifts continue for generations. For university trustee Aarti Chandna (GRS ’88, computer science) and her husband, Asheem Chandna (CIT ’86; GRS ’88, computer engineering), this form of giving is already providing high-achieving students with opportunities they might not have otherwise had.
Established in 2018 with a commitment of $1.15 million, the Chandna Scholarship provides half-tuition support to undergraduate students pursuing degrees in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering or systems engineering at Case School of Engineering. Two scholarships are awarded annually—one each to a rising junior and rising senior—with financial need and leadership outside of the classroom serving as important pillars for consideration.
Now in its third year, the scholarship is helping ease the financial burden of two exceptional students, Zane Varner and Caroline Zhu. Varner, a senior, has started graduate-level coursework to complete his BS/MS while a student at Case Western Reserve. Though he said he originally was “rushing” to complete his engineering degree because of the financial burden he felt, becoming a Chandna Scholar allowed him to slow down and reflect upon what field he truly wanted to pursue.
“Since then, I have changed my major and refocused my studies in Artificial Intelligence. Now I am pursuing a graduate degree in the field,” Varner said. “The scholarship program has dramatically changed the trajectory of my life and career.”
For Caroline Zhu, the role of student leader has come naturally. A junior who, like Varner, is studying computer science, Zhu arrived at Case Western Reserve from Southern California and immediately made an impact on campus. In addition to writing for The Observer, the university’s student-run newspaper, she advanced a growing Girls Who Code chapter at CWRU. She knows her path to success is smoother because of the generosity of Aarti and Asheem Chandna.
“The Chandna Scholarship has really offered me the freedom to consider new paths for my future,” Zhu said. “Since I’ve received the scholarship, I’ve been able to seriously consider pursuing further education in the form of a graduate or a PhD program. I’ve been very inspired by the Chandnas’ generosity to volunteer more of my time to Girls Who Code and to make an impact by helping others with their education—just as the Chandnas have helped me with mine.”
The sustained, life-changing support endowed scholarships provide to our students isn’t the only benefit. Donors, too, are able to experience the continued impact of their generosity. “The Case Western Reserve University education and experience has had a huge positive impact on our lives,” said Aarti and Asheem Chandna. “Through the Chandna Scholars program, we are privileged to be able to give back and help exceptional CWRU students with financial need receive the education they desire.”
Case Western Reserve balances two priorities in managing its investments: significant growth of the endowment and avoidance of undue risk involving its funds. These imperatives reflect the institution’s commitment to serve those now on the campus as well as the many generations who follow them. It is the university’s obligation to serve as a responsible steward of all contributions received, and at the same time ensure that the funds accumulate adequate interest to preserve and increase the gift’s original total. To achieve this goal, the university’s portfolio is allocated across a broad range of areas, among them domestic and foreign public equities, fixed-income funds, private capital and real assets.
Case Western Reserve’s Office of Investment manages endowment funds held directly by the university. In addition to seeking growth without incurring significant losses, the office also must preserve adequate liquidity to meet ongoing needs as specified by donors and direct by the university’s Board of Trustees. The board annually allocates a portion of returns to support the overall operations of the university and the actual management of the funds.