The university established the Grawemeyer Awards through a $9 million gift to the school in 1984 from Charles Grawemeyer, a graduate and entrepreneur. The endowment from that gift funds the five annual awards of $200,000 each.
The Grawemeyer Foundation gives awards annually for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, education, psychology and religion.
The drop in the endowment’s value, from $26 to $17 million over two years, now has university officials looking at reducing the cash awards. University provost Shirley Willihnganz.
“Everyone really does value these awards and wants to be sure that they are maintained with a great degree of integrity,” she says. “So I think people have been kind of weighing in now that we’ve got the options out there.”
Willihnganz says there are several options on the table.
“Some of those would be looking at reducing the amounts of the awards, so that the award amount would kind of match the endowment income. And the Nobel Prizes are done that way,” she says. “And then there would be options such as not giving a single award in a year or going a year without giving any of the awards. Those aren’t necessarily preferred options.”
Willihnganz says she expects a decision by the school’s board of trustees either later this month or in May.