The Heritage Trust, believed to be the only one of its kind at a Canadian university, was created in 1991 by Board of Governors as a unique way for the University to pay for strategic one-time investments without having to draw on its operating budget. The Trust is overseen on behalf of the Board of Governors by a Board of Trustees.
The Trust was created as an endowment fund that is enhanced over time through revenue generated by leased lands owned by the University. The lands were earmarked for development by the Board of Governors when the trust was set up and put under the responsibility of the Heritage Trust's 7 to 9 member board. In all cases, the leased lands have been designated as surplus to U of G's core academic needs for the next few decades, and they can be reclaimed at each lease maturity if the University needs the land.
Effectively, the Board of Trustees oversees the monetization of the land assets to sustain and enhance the endowment. The endowment is set up so that the funds generated from the real estate are protected against inflation and continue to grow, but it also provides important dividends to the University for strategic projects. As of April 30, 2013, the value of the Heritage Trust Fund was approximately $81.7 million and with [an average of about] $3 million annually from long-term leases of the various properties to added to its financial base annually.
In addition to the endowment created to date and future growth from further funds generated by lease transactions - and from the prudent investment of the fund in marketable securities - the University of Guelph has received about $20 million in dividends from the Heritage Trust for strategic initiatives. Projects include the support of student learning in the Learning Commons, the development of the tri-university library system TRELLIS and enhanced student information and financial systems, as well as classroom improvements and renovations. The most recent project is the Voice Over Internet Protocol phone and computer system.
Proceeds from the Heritage Trust cannot be used to fund ongoing operating expenses, including making up for funding gaps that have resulted from inadequate government support.
The Board of Trustees for the University of Guelph Heritage Fund is a unique standing committee of the Board with its own membership and specialized mandate. Its meetings are held in camera.
Links are provided to a brief history and overview of the Heritage Trust, the "Declaration of Trust", the Board of Trustees' membership and its current meeting schedule.